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Michael H. Hart 

A Citadel Press Book 
Published by Carol Publishing Group 

Carol Publishing Group Edition - 1993 

Copyright © 1978, 1992 by Michael H. Hart 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, 
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

The 100: a ranking of the most influential persons in history / 
Michael H. Hart.--Rev. ed. 

. cm. 
* Originally published: New York: Hart Pub. Co., 1978. 
ISBN 0-8065-1348-8: ISBN 0-8065-1350-0 
1. Biography. I. Title. II. Title: One-hundred. 
CT105.H32 1992 
920.02---dc20 92-35426 

To the memory of my father, without 
whose encouragement and inspiration 
this book would never have been written 


I would particularly like to thank 
Dr. J. Richard Gott, UI for the many 
insights he provided me on the historical 
significance of various individuals. Dis- 
cussions with Harrison Roth and with 
Donald Archer have also proven most 


The encouragement and assistance 
of my mother and my sister is gratefully 
acknowledged. Most of all, I wish to 
thank my wife, Sherry, whose help in 
both the research and the writing con- 
tributed so greatly to this book. 



1. Muhammad 3 
2. Isaac Newton ll 
3. Jesus Christ 17 
4. Buddha 22 
5. Confucius at 
6. St. Paul 31 
7. Tsai Lun 36 
8. Johann Gutenberg 42. 
9. Christopher Columbus AT 
10. Albert Einstein 52 
11. Louis Pasteur 60 
12. Galileo Galilei 64 
13. Aristotle 70 
14. Euclid 75 
15. Moses 79 
hs 16. Charles Darwin 82 
17. Shih Huang Ti 87 
18. Augustus Caesar 92 
19. Nicolaus Copernicus 99 
20. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier 103 
21. Constantine the Great 107 
22. James Watt Ml 
23. Michael Faraday 115 




James Clerk Maxwell 
Martin Luther 
George Washington 
Karl Marx 

Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright 

Genghis Khan 
Adam Smith 

Edward de Vere (better known as 

“William Shakespeare’) 
John Dalton 
Alexander the Great 

Napoleon Bonaparte 
Thomas Edison 

Antony van Leeuwenhoek 

William T. G. Morton 
Guglielmo Marconi 
Adolf Hitler 


Oliver Cromwell 
Alexander Graham Bell 
Alexander Fleming 
John Locke 

Ludwig van Beethoven 
Werner Heisenberg 
Louis Daguerre 
Sim6én Bolivar 

René Descartes 

Pope Urban II 

"Umar ibn al-Khattab 

St. Augustine 

William Harvey 





Ernest Rutherford 
John Calvin 

Gregor Mendel 

Max Planck 

Joseph Lister 
Nikolaus August Otto 
Francisco Pizarro 
Hernando Cortés 
Thomas Jefferson 
Queen Isabella I 
Joseph Stalin 

Julius Caesar 

William the Conqueror 
Sigmund Freud 
Edward Jenner 
William Conrad Réntgen 
Johann Sebastian Bach 
Lao Tzu 


Johannes Kepler 
Enrico Fermi 
Leonhard Euler 
Jean-Jacques Rousseau 
Niccold Machiavelli 
Thomas Malthus 

John F. Kennedy 
Gregory Pincus 



Sui Wen Ti 

Vasco da Gama 

Cyrus the Great 
Peter the Great 




Mao Zedong 
Francis Bacon 
Henry Ford 

Queen Elizabeth I 
Mikhail Gorbachev 

Justinian | 

St. Thomas Aquinas 
Charles Babbage 
Marie Curie 
Benjamin Franklin 
Mohandas Gandhi 
Abraham Lincoln 
Ferdinand Magellan 
Leonardo da Vinci 
Table A 
Table B 
Table C 







Mecca, the holy city of Islam; the black building at 
center is the Kaaba, the sanctuary that houses 
the black stone. 

Muhammad and the Arab conquests (map). 

Moslem crusaders under Muhammad conquer in 
Allah’s name. 

Isaac Newton. 
Newton analyzes a ray of light. 
Jesus Christ. 

Rembrandt's “Hundred Guilder Print” of Christ 


The belfry of a Japanese Buddhist temple. 

“Buddha's Return from Heaven,” by Nanda Lal Bose. 

The legendary meeting of Confucius with Lao Tzu. 
St. Paul. 

Detail of Michelangelo's fresco, “The Conversion of 
Saint Paul,” in the Vatican. 

Christian pilgrims march in a Good Friday procession 
on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. 

Tsai Lun. 
Process of papermaking. 

Johann Gutenberg. 

Gutenberg and friends examine the first printed page. 


xii List of Illustrations 

A page from an original Gutenberg Bible. 
Christopher Columbus. 

“Columbus before Isabella,” by Vacslav Brozik. 

The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria sail to the 
New World. 

“The Landing of Columbus,” by John Vanderlyn. 
Albert Einstein. 

The atomic bomb explodes at Hiroshima, August 6, 

Einstein discusses his theories. 
Louis Pasteur. 

Pasteur in his laboratory. 
Galileo Galilei. 

Illustration of Galilean law of leverage from Galileo's 
physics textbook Mathematical Discourses and 

Galileo's telescope. 

The Leaning Tower of Pisa from which Galileo 

supposedly demonstrated the laws of falling 


Portrait of Aristotle by Raphael, detail from “The 
School of Athens.” 

Aristotle and his pupil, Alexander. 


Diagram from a Euclidian geometric theorem. 
Statue of Moses, by Michelangelo. 

“Moses with the Ten Commandments,” by Guido 








List of Illustrations 
Charles Darwin. 

Beagle Channel was named after Darwin's ship “The 

Great Wall of China. 
Augustus Caesar. 
The Roman Empire at the death of Augustus (map). 
Statue of Augustus Caesar at the Vatican. 
Nicolaus Copernicus. 
The Copernican system of the universe. 
| Antoine Laurent Lavoisier. 
Lavoisier in his laboratory at the Royal Arsenal. 
Constantine the Great. 

“Constantine Fighting the Lion,” from Constantine 
tapestry designed by Pietro Da Cortona. 

James Watt. 

Watt's double-acting steam engine, 1769. 

Watt, as a boy, notices the condensation of steam. 
Michael Faraday. 

Faraday lectures at the Royal Institution on December 
27, 1855. 

James Clerk Maxwell. 

Maxwell's equations are the basic laws of electricity 
and magnetism. 

Martin Luther. 

Luther nails the Ninety-five Theses to the door of the 
church at Wittenberg. 

“Luther before the Diet of Worms,” by E. Delperee. 
George Washington. 








xiv List of Illustrations 
Karl Marx. 

Chinese citizens at a cadre school in Beijing receive 
instructions in Marxism. 

Orville and Wilbur Wright. 
The Wright brothers original byplane. 

The historic first flight of the Wright brothers’ airplane 
at Kitty Hawk. 

Genghis Khan. 

The Mongol conquests (map). 

Adam Smith. | 

Smith is commemorated on the Scots penny. 

Portrait of Edward de Vere (attributed to Marcus 

Hedingham Castle, the birthplace and childhood home 
of Edward de Vere. 

Letter written (in French) by Edward de Vere when 
he was 13 years old. 

John Dalton. 

Dalton’s table of atomic weights. 
Alexander the Great. 

The Empire of Alexander the Great (map). 

Alexander on horseback, detail from “The Battle of 
Alexander,” mosaic at Pompei from the 2nd 
century, B.C. 

Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Napoleon before the Sphinx (“LOedipe’”) by J. L. 

Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. 

Thomas Edison. 










List of Illustrations 
Edison in his laboratory at Menlo Park. 
Antony van Leeuwenhoek. 
William T. G. Morton 
Morton anesthetizes a patient. 

With this glass container, Morton first administered 
sulphuric ether to a patient in 1846. 

Guglielmo Marconi. 

Marconi at his telegraph machine. 

Marconi in his floating laboratory, the yacht “Elettra.” 

Adolf Hitler. 

Scene at Buchenwald. 

Nazi soldiers, 1933. 


Oliver Cromwell. 

Cromwell refuses the crown of England. 
Alexander Graham Bell. 

Bell opens the telephone line between New York and 
Chicago in 1892. 

Alexander Fleming. 

John Locke. 

Ludwig van Beethoven. 

An original manuscript by Ludwig van Beethoven. 
Werner Heisenberg. 

Louis Daguerre. 

The official Daguerre camera produced by Daguerre’s 

brother-in-law, Alphonse Giroux, carried a label 

that says: “No apparatus guaranteed if it does not 
bear the signature of M. Daguerre and the seal of 

M. Giroux.” 





xvi List of Illustrations 
Simon Bolivar. 
René Descartes. 

Title page from the first edition of Discourse on 
Method, 1637. 

The “David,” in the Accademia in Florence. 

The “Pieta,” in the Vatican in Rome. 

“God Dividing the Waters from the Earth,” section of 

the Sistine Chapel ceiling. 

Pope Urban II incites Crusaders to recapture the Holy 


Mosque in Cairo named after Umar ibn al-Khattab. 

Arab expansion under ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (map). 

Asoka issued edicts on stone pillars, such as this 
Asokan pillar at Lauriya-Nandangarh. 

Augustine disputes with Manichaeans. 
Augustine dictates to a scribe. 

William Harvey. 

Harvey explains his ideas to Charles L 
Illustrations from William Harvey's book On the 

Movement of the Heart and Blood in Animals. 

Ernest Rutherford. 
John Calvin. 

Monument in Geneva commemorating the 

Gregor Mendel. 

The genetic patterns of the flower mirabilis jalapa. 

Max Planck. 
Joseph Lister. 








List of Illustrations 
Nikolaus August Otto. 

Otto's engine was employed by automobile pioneers 
Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz. 

The original “Benzine Buggy.” 
Francisco Pizarro. 

Pizarro s audience with Charles V before embarking 
for Peru. 

Hernando Cortés. 
Cortés and Montezuma meet. 
Thomas Jefferson. 

Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia—the 
historic Monticello—was built from his own 

Queen Isabella I. 
Joseph Stalin. 

Scene from one of the spectacular Russian treason 
trials of the thirties, which established Stalin's 
reputation as a tyrant. 

Stalin meets with M.I. Kalinin, president of the 
Soviet Union, 1923-1946. 

Julius Caesar. 

The Ides of March: the assassination of Julius Caesar. 
William the Conqueror. 

William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. 
The first known painting of the Battle of Hastings. 
Sigmund Freud. 

Edward Jenner. 

Jenner administers the first vaccination. 

Wilhelm Conrad Réntgen. 








xviii List of Illustrations 
X-rays have facilitated great advances in dentistry. 
Johann Sebastian Bach. 

A page from the score of the “Prelude and Fugue in 
B-Minor,” written by J. S. Bach. 

Lao Tzu. 

Taoist family sacrifices to the harvest moon. 

Voltaire’s funeral. 

Johannes Kepler. 

Enrico Fermi. 

Leonhard Euler. 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 

An etching of Rousseau by Naudet. 

Niccolo Machiavelli. 

Bust of Niccolo Machiavelli by an unknown Florentine 

Thomas Malthus. 
John F. Kennedy. 

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts left this 
footstep on the moon, fulfilling Kennedy's pledge 
of May 1961 to land a manned spacecraft on the 
moon “before this decade is out.” 

Gregory Pincus. 
Persian mosaic depicting the Manichaean elect. 

A miniature, probably of the 8th or 9th century, 
depicting two rows of Manichaean priests in 
ritual costume. 


Woodcut of Lenin and Red Guards with the motto: 
“We stand on guard for freedom.” 







List of Illustrations xix 
Sui Wen Ti. 420 
Vasco da Gama. 424 
Vasco da Gama’s ship rounds the Cape of Good Hope. 427 
The voyages of Vasco da Gama and Columbus (map). 428 

Cyrus the Great. 432 
Cyrus the Great and the Persian Empire (map). 436 
The tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae. 438 
Peter the Great. 439 

At the Battle of Poltava, the Russian forces under 
Peter the Great decisively defeated the Swedish. 442 

Mao Zedong. 445 
Chinese citizens celebrate the 18th anniversary of 

Mao's takeover of the mainland. 448 
Chairman Mao participates in Chinese scholastic 

celebrations. : 449 
Francis Bacon. 450 
“ . . . those that want friends to open themselves unto 

are cannibals of their own hearts; . . .” FRANCIS 

Henry Ford. 456 
Ford’s famous “Model T.” 458 
Assembly line at Ford’s Highland Park plant. 459 
Mencius. 461 
Zoroaster. 464 
A Parsee fire-temple in Bombay. 466 
Queen Elizabeth I. 468 

The defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588) marked the 
beginning of English naval supremacy under 
Elizabeth I. 473 


XX List of Illustrations 

Mikhail Gorbachev. 

Gorbachev and Reagan sign arms limitation agreement 

at summit meeting in Washington, D.C. 
(December 8, 1987). 

Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, visiting Riga in 


This ebony tablet from the First Dynasty is one of the 
earliest known examples of hieroglyphics, and 
contains the royal hawk of Menes (upper left). 

Charlemagne’s Empire (map). 

The Treaty of Verdun set the borders of present-day 
France and Germany. 


An illustration by John Flaxman from Homer's Iliad, 
depicting the funeral of the great warrior Hector. 

Justinian [. 

A Byzantine mosaic at the Church of San Vitale at 
Ravenna depicts the Emperor Justinian. 


Leonardo da Vinci (self-portrait). 









Today, a dozen years after The 100 was first published, the book is 
still selling well, and translations into other languages keep ap- 
pearing. Why then, should there be a revised edition of the book? 

One reason for making revisions is that history did not come 
to a halt in 1978, when the first edition of this book was written. 
On the contrary, many new events have occurred since then— 
some of them quite unanticipated—and new historical figures have 
emerged. Even had my knowledge of the past been perfect twelve 
years ago, this book would still need revising, because the world 
has changed since then. 

Of course, my knowledge of the past was far from perfect in 
1978. In the intervening years, I have (I hope) learned a lot from 
my own studies, and in addition, the response to my book has been 
educational. Many of the letters I received from readers mentioned 
historical facts that I had overlooked; or they pointed out new— 
and often better—ways of interpreting the facts I already knew. 
The same is true of many remarks made by callers-in to radio talk 
shows where I was a guest. A second reason, therefore, for this 
edition is to correct some of the shortcomings of the first. 

One of the most difficult (and interesting) tasks involved in 
writing The 100 was evaluating the relative importance of various 
political leaders. We all tend to overestimate the importance of 
current heads of state. They seem to us like giants; whereas states- 
men who lived a few centuries ago—and who seemed every bit as 
important to their contemporaries—are now nearly forgotten. 

It is far easier to evaluate the significance of an ancient leader. 
We can see the consequences—or at least the aftermath—of his or 
her actions, and can use that information to estimate the person’s 
importance. To estimate the importance of a current political figure 
is much harder. No matter how powerful a leader seems today, and 


xxii Preface to the Second Edition 

no matter how innovative, it is difficult to foretell how long his or 
her influence will endure. 

A case in point is my ranking (#20) of Mao Tse-tung (now 
spelled Mao Zedong) in the first edition. That edition was written 
shortly after the death of Mao, when the memory of his achieve- 
ments was still fresh. Of course, I realized at the time that Mao's 
importance would probably fade as the years went by; but I greatly 
underestimated the extent and swiftness of that decline. Within a 
few years of Mao's death, the reforms instituted by his successor 
(Deng Xiaoping) have drastically altered many of Mao's most cher- 
ished policies. Since Deng seems to be undoing a good deal of 
Maos program, it has been apparent for some time that the first 
edition of this book seriously overestimated Maos long-term im- 

But this edition is not being written merely in order to change 
the ranking of a single person. Much more has happened in the 
past decade than just the decline of Maos influence. When the 
first edition of this book was being written, it seemed as though 
the Communist movement—as dreadful as it appeared to me—was 
so firmly entrenched in so many countries, and so skilled and 
ruthless in its hold on power, that it might well endure for many 
decades, perhaps even for centuries; indeed, it might even succeed 
in triumphing over a West that was more humane, but less deter- 

If that was so, then the founders of the Communist system 
(Marx, Lenin, Stalin) were all extremely influential men. However, 
the events of the past few years have shown that the Communist 
system was not nearly as powerful, nor as firmly entrenched, as I 
had feared. In fact, the decline of Marxism is the most striking 
historical feature of the past decade. 

The entire Soviet empire in Eastern Europe has collapsed, 
and the liberated countries have all renounced Communism. Vari- 
ous other countries (such as Ethiopia and Mongolia) that had once 
been client states of the Soviet Union have also abandoned Marx- 
ism. The Soviet Union itself has disintegrated and has been re- 

Preface to the Second Edition xxiii 

placed by fifteen independent republics, and none of them are 
retaining the Marxist-Leninist system. 

There are still a few Communist governments remaining in 
the world—Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, Laos, and the People’s 
Republic of China. But none of those are strong economically, and 
none seem secure. Although over a billion people still live under 
Communist tyrannies, and though a resurgence of Marxism is still 
theoretically possible, it would not be surprising if, ten or twenty 
years from now, there was not even one Communist government 
left in the whole world! 

It follows that the founders of the Communist system were far 
less important figures than I had originally estimated. And it sug- 
gests that various persons whose ideas are particularly antithetical 
to Communism—men such as Thomas Jefferson and Adam 
Smith—were probably more influential than I had estimated in 
the first edition. 

It also suggests that a new name should be added to the list 
of influential persons. Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of the 
Soviet Union during its last fateful years (1985-1991). His policies 
and his actions—and his inactions at critical junctures!—were a 
major factor in the end of the Cold War, the decline of Commu- 
nism, and the breakup of the Soviet Union. In view of the enor- 
mous importance of these events, Gorbachev has been included in 
this edition. He has been ranked in position #95, somewhat below 
Lenin, but far higher that most of the famous political leaders of 
the past. 

Another revision—and one which is likely to be controver- 
sial—is my inclusion of Edward de Vere as the real “William Shake- 
speare,” rather than the man from Stratford-on-Avon who is 
described as the author by most “orthodox” textbooks. This change 
was only made reluctantly: It represents an admission that I made 
a serious error in the first edition when, without carefully checking 
the facts, I simply “followed the crowd” and accepted the Stratford 
man as the author of the plays. Since then, I have carefully exam- 
ined the arguments on both sides of the question and have con- 

XXiV Preface to the Second Edition 

cluded that the weight of the evidence is heavily against the 
Stratford man, and in favor of de Vere. 

I regret that, in a book this size, space does not permit the 
inclusion of all the arguments which show that Edward de Vere, 
rather than the Stratford man, was the author of the plays. I hope 
that the facts presented in my article will be sufficient for most 
readers. For a fuller and more detailed exposition the interested 
reader might consult the excellent book by Charlton Ogburn, The 
Mysterious William Shakespeare, which is perhaps the definitive 
book on this interesting topic. 

Besides Gorbachev, two other persons—Ernest Rutherford 
and Henry Ford—have been included in this revised edition who 
were not in the original book. 

Rutherford was one of the most celebrated scientists of the 
twentieth century. I am not sure how I managed to overlook him 
when I wrote the first edition, and several scientists expressed 
surprise at my omission. On reviewing his scientific accomplish- 
ments, I have concluded that his contributions to modern atomic 
theory exceed those of Niels Bohr (who was #100 in the first edi- 
tion), while his contributions to our knowledge of radioactivity were 
more important than those of Becquerel (who was #58). 

Henry Ford was one of the “honorable mentions” in the first 
edition. However, many readers wrote in, claiming that I had 
underestimated his importance, and presenting reasons why he 
should have been included in the first hundred. On reconsidering 
the matter, I have concluded that the critics were right, and J have 
altered this edition accordingly. 

One should not infer, though, that the revised edition is sim- 
ply the result of a poll. It was not the number of objecting letters 
which caused me to change my mind about Ford—indeed, I re- 
ceived more objections on some other points—but the soundness 
of the reasoning in those letters. The rankings in this book are, for 
better or worse, my own opinions, not some consensus of readers 
or experts. 

To make room for the three additions to the top hundred 
(Gorbachev, Rutherford, and Ford), it was necessary to delete three 

Preface to the Second Edition XxXV 

persons who had been included in that group in the first edition. 
Those three men are: Niels Bohr, Pablo Picasso, and Antoine Henri 
Becquerel. This, of course, does not in any way imply that I con- 
sider them to be unimportant figures. On the contrary, those 
three—like most of those listed as honorable mentions, and like 
many other men and women whom I have not had the space to 
mention—were talented and influential persons who have helped 
create this fascinating world we live in. 

Michael H. Hart 
January 1992 

We see, then, how far the monuments of 
wit and learning are more durable than 
the monuments of power or of the hands. 
For have not the verses of Homer contin- 
ued twenty-five hundred years or more, 
without the loss of a syllable or letter; 
during which time infinite palaces, tem- 
ples, castles, cities, have been decayed 
and demolished? 

The Advancement of Learning (1605) 


In his book Letters on the English, Voltaire relates that during 
his stay in England, in 1726, he overheard some learned men dis- 
cussing the question: who was the greatest man—Caesar, Alex- 
ander, Tamerlane, or Cromwell? One speaker maintained that 
Sir Isaac Newton was beyond a doubt the greatest man. Voltaire 
agreed with this judgment, for: “It is to him who masters our 
minds by the force of truth, and not to those who enslave them 
by violence, that we owe our reverence.” 

Whether Voltaire was truly convinced that Sir Isaac New- 
ton was the greatest man who ever lived or was simply trying to 
make a philosophical point, the anecdote raises an interesting 
question: of the billions of human beings who have populated the 
earth, which persons have most influenced the course of history? 

This book presents my own answer to that question, my list 
of the 100 persons in history whom I believe to have been the 
most influential. I must emphasize that this is a list of the most 
influential persons in history, not a list of the greatest. For exam- 
ple, there is room in my list for an enormously influential, wick- 
ed, and heartless man like Stalin, but no place at all for the saint- 
ly Mother Cabrini. 

This book is solely involved with the question of who were 
the 100 persons who had the greatest effect on history and on the 
course of the world. I have ranked these 100 persons in order of 
importance: that is, according to the total amount of influence 
that each of them had on human history and on the everyday 
lives of other human beings. Such a group of exceptional people, 
whether noble or reprehensible, famous or obscure, flamboyant 
or modest, cannot fail to be interesting; they are the people who 
have shaped our lives and formed our world. 

XXViii Introduction 

Before composing such a catalogue, it is necessary to formu- 
late the ground rules as to who is eligible for inclusion and on 
what basis. The first rule is that only real persons are eligible for 
consideration. That rule is sometimes difficult to apply; for ex- 
ample, did the Chinese sage Lao Tzu actually exist, or is he mere- 
ly a legendary figure? How about Homer? How about Aesop, the 
putative author of the famous Aesop’s Fables? In cases such as 
these, where the facts are uncertain, I have been obliged to make 
a guess—an educated guess, I trust—based on the information 

Anonymous persons are also disqualified. Obviously the in- 
dividual who invented the wheel—if indeed the wheel was in- 
vented by a single person—was a very influential figure, prob- 
ably far more important than most of the people listed in this 
book. However, under the rules that I postulate, that individual, 
along with the inventor of writing, and all the other anonymous 
benefactors of the human race, has been excluded from consider- 

In composing this list, I have not simply selected the most 
famous or prestigious figures in history. Neither fame, nor talent, 
nor nobility of character is the same thing as influence. Thus, 
Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Babe Ruth, and 
even Leonardo da Vinci are omitted from this list—although 
some find a place among the Honorable Mentions that follow the 
One Hundred. On the other hand, influence is. not always ex- 
erted benevolently; thus, an evil genius such as Hitler meets the 
criteria for inclusion. 

Since the influence with which we are concerned must be 
averaged over the world at large, the names of many outstanding 
political figures whose influence was primarily local are absent. 
However, a significant impact on one important country is 
equivalent to a less commanding influence affecting the entire 
earth; thus, Peter the Great of Russia, whose influence extended 
primarily to his own country, appears on my list. 

I have not confined my list to persons who have affected the 
present situation of mankind. Influence on past generations was 
taken equally into account. 

Introduction xxix 

What about the future? In ranking the men and women in 
this book, I considered the influence that their accomplishments 
may have on future generations and events. Since our knowledge 
of the future is severely limited, it is obvious I could not estimate 
continued influence with anything approaching certitude. 
Nevertheless, it seems safe to predict that electricity, for exam- 
ple, will still be important 500 years from now, and the contribu- 
tions of such scientists as Faraday and Maxwell will therefore 
continue to affect the daily lives of our remote descendants. 

In deciding exactly where to place an individual, I gave 
much weight to the importance of the historical movement to 
which he contributed. Generally speaking, major historical de- 
velopments are never due to the actions of one person alone. Be- 
cause this book is concerned with individual, personal influence, 
I have tried to divide the credit for a given development in pro- 
portion to each participant’s contribution. Individuals, there- 
fore, are not ranked in the same order as would be the important 
events or movements with which they are associated. Sometimes 
a person who is almost exclusively responsible for a significant 
event or movement has been ranked higher than one who played 
a less dominant role in a more important movement. 

A striking example of this is my ranking Muhammad higher 
than Jesus, in large part because of my belief that Muhammad 
had a much greater personal influence on the formulation of the 
Moslem religion than Jesus had on the formulation of the Chris- 
tian religion. This does not imply, of course, that I think 
Muhammad was a greater man than Jesus. 

There are some important developments to which a large 
number of persons contributed, but in which no one individual 
was of overriding importance. A good illustration is the develop- 
ment of explosives and firearms; another is the women’s libera- 
tion movement; still another is the rise and evolution of Hin- 
duism. Although each of these developments is of major impor- 
tance, if credit were apportioned among the many contributors, 
no one person would qualify for inclusion on this list. 

Would it then be advisable to choose a representative indi- 
vidual for each of these developments, and to accord that person 

XXX Introduction 

all of the credit? I think not. Under such a procedure, the Hindu 
philosopher Sankara would appear near the top of the list as a re- 
presentative of Hinduism. But Sankara himself is neither par- 
ticularly famous—he is virtually unknown outside India—nor 
outstandingly influential. Similarly, it would strike me as frivo- 
lous to rank Richard Gatling, the inventor of an early model of 
machine gun, higher than Albert Einstein, purely on the grounds 
that the evolution of firearms was more important than the for- 
mulation of the theory of relativity. In all such cases, I have 
decided not to try to choose a “first among equals.” Each person 
included in this book has been selected on the basis of his or her 
actual influence, rather than as a representative of an important 

Where two individuals, in close collaboration, have pro- 
duced what is essentially a joint accomplishment, a special rule 
has been adopted. For example, Orville and Wilbur Wright 
worked so closely together in inventing the airplane that it is 
nearly impossible to separate their individual contributions. In 
this case, it seems pointless to attempt to ascertain the proportion 
of credit due to each man, and then to assign each man a 
separate place on the list. Instead, the two men have been 
treated as a joint entry. 

Like the Wright brothers, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels 
share a chapter, although it is headed only by the name of Marx, 
whom I consider the more important of the two. A few other 
joint contributors have been treated in the same fashion. Let me 
stress that this rule about joint entry does not apply to persons 
who merely worked in the same general field, but only to close 

There is one other factor, which it has been suggested, 
should be considered in determining an individual’s place on this 
list. In retrospect, we can see that if Guglielmo Marconi had not 
invented the radio, some other person would have done so within 
a few years. Similarly, it seems likely that Mexico would have 
been conquered by Spain even had Hernando Cortes never ex- 
isted, and that the theory of evolution would have been for- 
mulated without Charles Darwin. But these accomplishments 

Introduction XXXi 

were actually carried out by Marconi, Cortés, and Darwin, 
respectively. These three men have therefore been ranked on this 
list in accordance with their achievements, and the argument 
that “it would have happened anyway” has been disregarded. 

On the other hand, a few rare people were responsible for 
important events that might never have occurred without them. 
In assessing and ranking these people—an oddly-mixed group 
whose members include Genghis Khan, Beethoven, Muham- 
mad, and William the Conqueror—their particular achieve- 
ments have been assigned greater weight, because these individ- 
uals have been personally influential in the profoundest sense of 
the term. 

Of the tens of billions of individuals who have inhabited the 
world, fewer than one in a million is listed in a large biographical 
dictionary. Of the perhaps twenty thousand individuals whose 
achievements have merited mention in biographical dictionaries, 
only about one-half of one percent are included on this list. Thus, 
every person on this list, in my opinion, is one of the truly monu- 
mental figures of history. 

The influence of women on human affairs, as well as the 
contributions that females have made to human civilization, is 
obviously far greater than might be indicated by their numbers 
in this list. But a galaxy of influential figures will naturally be 
composed of individuals who had both the talent and the oppor- 
tunity to exert a great influence. Throughout history, women 
have generally been denied such opportunities, and my inclusion 
of only two females is simply a reflection of that regrettable 
truth. I see no point in trying to cover up the disagreeable fact of 
discrimination by adding a few token women to my list. This 
book is based on what actually did occur in the past; not on what 
should have occurred, or on what might have occurred had 
human institutions been more equitable. Similar observations 
might be made concerning various racial or ethnic groups whose 
members have been disadvantaged in the past. 

I have stressed that influence has been the sole criterion in 
ranking the individuals in this compendium. It would, of course, 

XXXH Introduction 

be possible to construct lists of “outstanding persons,” based on 
other criteria, such as fame, prestige, talent, versatility, and 
nobility of character. 

You, the reader, are urged to experiment by composing your 
own list—whether it be of the most influential, or of the most 
outstanding, or of otherwise superlative personages in any par- 
ticular field. I have found the creation of this book on the one 
hundred most influential figures both fascinating and entertain- 
ing, and 1 am confident that you, too, will enjoy the intellectual 
exercise of assembling your own list or lists. Your list of names 
will not and need not coincide with mine. You may prefer to 
ponder, for example, the one hundred most powerful individuals 
who ever lived, or the one hundred most charismatic characters. 
But should you choose to nominate the most influential figures, I 
hope the exercise will open up for you, as it did for me, a new 
perspective on history. 









Some Important Events and Developments 

NOTE: The names of the first twenty people in this book appear in full caps. 

WRITING invented by Sumerians 

Menes united Egypt 
Beginning of BRONZE AGE in Middle East 

Cheops; Great Pyramid built 

Sargon of Akkad conquers Sumeria 

First alphabet (Early Canaanite?) Cade nt aammicab 


Use of IRON becomes widespread in Middle East Exodus trom Ezye) MOSES 

Trojan War 

King David rules in Jerusalem 

Homer Isaiah 

Iron Age begins in China 
Zoroaster Babylonians conquer Judea, destroy Temple of Solomon 



XXXIV Historical Chart 

BUDDHA Cyrus the Great conquers Babylonia 

Battle of Marathon; heavily armed infantry prevails 

Herodotus ; : 
Hippocrates Democritus 
400 Death of Socrates 
ARISTOTLE Alexander the Great 

Mencius Lao Tzu 

Asoka Aristarchus of Samos 


SHIH HUANG TI unites China 
200 Rome defeats Carthage in Second Punic War —_ Liu Pang founds Han dynasty 

Rome conquers Greece 


Julius Caesar conquers Gaul 

AUGUSTUS CAESAR, first Roman emperor 

Crucifixion of JESUS 

ST. PAUL preaching and writing 
100 ’ ae 

Height of Roman power TS°Al LUN invents paper 

End of Han dynasty in China 
Mani preaching in Mesopotamia, Persia 


Constantine the Great, first Christian emperor of Rome 










Historical Chart XXXV 
Gothic cavalry (with stirrups, saddles) defeats Roman infantry at Battle of Adrianople 

Rome declining St. Augustine 

Anglo-Saxon conquest of England 
End of Western Roman Empire 

Code of Justinian 

Sui Wen Ti reunites China 

MUHAMMAD founds Islam 
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, second Caliph; Arabs conquer Egypt, Persia, Iraq 

Beginning of block printing in China 
Moslems conquer Spain 
Moslems defeated in France at Battle of Tours T’ang dynasty in China at peak 

Charlemagne crowned in Rome Harun al-Rashid 
Height of Caliphate in Baghdad; Mamun the Great 

Height of Viking raids in Europe Beginning of Viking state in Normandy 

Leif Ericson 

William the Conqueror wins Battle of Hastings, conquers England 
Pope Urban Il; Crusades begin 

Increasing use of crossbows in warfare 

Height of papal power under Innocent III 

Magna Carta Temujin = Genghis Khan 

Mongols conquer Russia 
Thomas Aquinas Mongols conquer China; height of Mongol power; Kubilai Khan 

XXXVi Historical Chart 

1300 + RENAISSANCE begins in Italy Marco Polo 
Dante CANNONS coming into use in Europe 
English longbowmen rout French Black Death ravages Europe 
knights at Battle of Crécy 
1400 Tamerlane ravages India, Persia 

Henry the Navigator 

Joan of Arc 
se 1450 Siege artillery makes castles obsolete Primitive handguns 
Turks conquer Constantinople GUTENBERG develops printing with 
ee ( = end of Byzantine Empire) movable type 
1475 Par 
Ferdinand and Isabella unite Spain; Russia gains independence 
Spanish Inquisition begins from Mongols 
COLUMBUS discovers America 
1500 . Vasco da Gama discovers route to India Leonardo da Vinci 
Michelangelo Machiavelli 
Magellan Cortés conquers Mexico 
vu Pizarro conquers Peru 
Se Calvin 
Elizabeth | begins reign in England From here on FIREARMS 
dominate warfare 

Spanish Armada defeated by English navy 

1600 ~ Edward de Vere (= “William Shakespeare”) 

Kepler Telescope invented 

Historical Chart XXXVii 

Francis Bacon Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock 
Harvey discovers circulation of the blood 
Germany devastated by Thirty Years’ War Japan shuts out West 
Descartes Rembrandt Taj Mahal built 
1650 English Civil War; Oliver Cromwell 
1675 Leeuwenhoek discovers bacteria 
Glorious Revolution in England ISAAC NEWTON writes Principia 
John Locke 
1700 Peter the Great Early steam engine 

Voltaire writes Letters on the English; beginning of French Enlightenment 

Johann Sebastian Bach 

1750 + Montesquieu = Rousseau 
Leonhard Euler 

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION beginning in England 

Benjamin Franklin 

1770 James Watt invents improved steam engine 
Jefferson writes Adam Smith writes 
Declaration of Independence The Wealth of Nations 
1780 ~ George Washington Immanuel Kant 
U.S. Constitution written Coulomb discovers electrostatic law 

Jenner Malthus 

XXXVI Historical Chart 

1800 Volta invents first electric battery 
Napoleon Bonaparte 

England bans slave trade 

John Dalton 
Battle of Waterloo Beethoven 
David Ricardo 
1820 British dominate India _ Bolivar wins Battle of Boyaca 
1830 ‘ as 
Rasrodds pee oming imiporan Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction 
Telegraph invented 
1840 Daguerre invents photography 
Morton introduces anesthesia 
1860 | Lenoir invents 2-stroke internal DARWIN publishes 
eee ae ; 
combustion engine Gadling tnventommchine zon The Origin of Species 
American Civil War; Lincoln 
James Clerk Maxwell = enge} 
1870 Meiji restoration in Japan Karl Marx Lister 
Otto invents 4-stroke internal combustion engine. Bell invents telephone 

Edison invents electric light 

1890 British Empire at peak Automobiles first sold commercially (Daimler, Benz) 











Historical Chart Xxxix 

Motion pictures invented ROntgen discovers X-rays 
Marconiinueateienas Becquere] discovers radioactivity 

Sigmund Freud Max Planck 

Wright brothers invent airplane 
EINSTEIN formulates special theory of relativity 

Henry Ford introduces Model T 

Rutherford discovers atomic nucleus 

Russian Revolution: Lenin World War I: trench warfare; gas warfare, tanks 

Quantum mechanics: de Broglie, Heisenberg, Schrodinger 

Fleming discovers penicillin 

Franklin D. Roosevelt Stalin Keynes 
Fermi builds first nuclear reactor Wore wart 
ATOMIC BOMBS first general purpose COMPUTERS 
Transistor invented (Shockley, 

Mao Zedong , TELEVISION becomes important 
H-bomb invented Crick & Watson discover stuctureofDNA — Masers 
Pincus develops contraceptive pill 

beads : Lasers 
John F. Kennedy institutes Apollo project 
first MOON LANDING (Apollo 11) 
Vietnam war 
Artificial gene implanted in bacteria 
Soviet empire in Eastern Europe ends | | Cold War ends 

USSR abandons Communism, breaks apart 



Mecca, the holy city of Islam; the black building at center 
is the Kaaba, the sanctuary that houses the black stone. 

ltl = MUHAMMAD | s70-¢ 

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most in- 
fluential persons may surprise some readers and may be question- 
ed by others, but he was the only man in history who was 
supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. 

Of humble origins, Muhammad founded and promulgated 
one of the world’s great religions, and became an immensely ef- 
fective political leader. Today, thirteen centuries after his death, 
his influence is still powerful and pervasive. | 

The majority of the persons in this book had the advantage 
of being born and raised in centers of civilization, highly 
cultured or politically pivotal nations. Muhammad, however, 
was born in the year 570, in the city of Mecca, in southern 


4 THE 100 

Arabia, at that time a backward area of the world, far from the 
centers of trade, art, and learning. Orphaned at age six, he was 
reared in modest surroundings. Islamic tradition tells us that he 
was illiterate. His economic position improved when, at age 
twenty-five, he married a wealthy widow. Nevertheless, as he 
approached forty, there was little outward indication that he 
was a remarkable person. 

Most Arabs at that time were pagans, and believed in many 
gods. There were, however, in Mecca, a small number of Jews and 
Christians; it was from them, most probably, that Muhammad first 
learned of a single, omnipotent God who ruled the entire universe. 
When he was forty years old, Muhammad became convinced that 
this one true God (Allah) was speaking to him (through the Arch- 
angel Gabriel) and had chosen him to spread the true faith. 

For three years, Muhammad preached only to close friends 
and associates. Then, about 613, he began preaching in public. 
As he slowly gained converts, the Meccan authorities came to 
consider him a dangerous nuisance. In 622, fearing for his safety, 
Muhammad fled to Medina (a city some 200 miles north of Mec- 
ca), where he had been offered a position of considerable 
political power. 

This flight, called the Hegira, was the turning point of the 
Prophet's life. In Mecca, he had had few followers. In Medina, he 
had many more, and he soon acquired an influence that made 
him virtually an absolute ruler. During the next few years, while 
Muhammad's following grew rapidly, a series of battles were fought 
between Medina and Mecca. This war ended in 630 with Muham- 
mad’s triumphant return to Mecca as conqueror. The remaining 
two and one-half years of his life witnessed the rapid conversion of 
the Arab tribes to the new religion. When Muhammad died, in 
632, he was the effective ruler of all of southern Arabia. 

The Bedouin tribesmen of Arabia had a reputation as fierce 
warriors. But their number was small; and plagued by disunity 
and internecine warfare, they had been no match for the larger 
armies of the kingdoms in the settled agricultural areas to the 
north. However, unified by Muhammad for the first time in 

Muhammad 5 

history, and inspired by their fervent belief in the one true God, 
these small Arab armies now embarked upon one of the most 
astonishing series of conquests in human history. To the 
northeast of Arabia lay the large Neo-Persian Empire of the 
Sassanids; to the northwest lay the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman 
Empire, centered in Constantinople. Numerically, the Arabs 
were no match for their opponents. On the field of battle, 
though, it was far different, and the inspired Arabs rapidly con- 
quered all of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine. By 642, Egypt 
had been wrested from the Byzantine Empire, while the Persian 
armies had been crushed at the key battles of Qadisiya in 637, and 
Nehavend in 642. 

But even these enormous conquests—which were made 
under the leadership of Muhammad’s close friends and im- 
mediate successors, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab—did 
not mark the end of the Arab advance. By 711, the Arab armies 
had swept completely across North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. 
There they turned north and, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, 
overwhelmed the Visigothic kingdom in Spain. 

For a while, it must have seemed that the Moslems would 
overwhelm all of Christian Europe. However, in 732, at the 
famous Battle of Tours, a Moslem army, which had advanced in- 
to the center of France, was at last defeated by the Franks. 
Nevertheless, in a scant century of fighting, these Bedouin 
tribesmen, inspired by the word of the Prophet, had carved out 
an empire stretching from the borders of India to the Atlantic 
Ocean—the largest empire that the world had yet seen. And 
everywhere that the armies conquered, large-scale conversion to 
the new faith eventually followed. 

Now, not all of these conquests proved permanent. The Per- 
sians, though they have remained faithful to the religion of the 
Prophet, have since regained their independence from the Arabs. 
And in Spain, more than seven centuries of warfare finally re- 
sulted in the Christians reconquering the entire peninsula. How- 
ever, Mesopotamia and Egypt, the two cradles of ancient civili- 
zation, have remained Arab, as has the entire coast of North 



8) | BLACK | 
ae _ EMPIRE 

bas Red, 

Moslem territory at the death 
of Muhammad, 632 A.D. 

The Arab empire about 
740 A.D. 

* Battles 

Muhammad and the Arab conquests. 

Moslem crusaders under Muhammad conquer in Allah's name. 

Africa. The new religion, of course, continued to spread, in the 
intervening centuries, far beyond the borders of the original 
Moslem conquests. Currently, it has tens of millions of adherents 
in Africa and Central Asia, and even more in Pakistan and nor- 
thern India, and in Indonesia. In Indonesia, the new faith has 
been a unifying factor. In the Indian subcontinent, however, the 
conflict between Moslems and Hindus is still a major obstacle to 

How, then, is one to assess the overall impact of Muham- 
mad on human history? Like all religions, Islam exerts an enor- 
mous influence upon the lives of its followers. It is for this reason 
that the founders of the world’s great religions all figure promi- 
nently in this book. Since there are roughly twice as many Chris- 
tians as Moslems in the world, it may initially seem strange that 

Muhammad 9 

Muhammad has been ranked higher than Jesus. There are two 
principal reasons for that decision. First, Muhammad played a 
far more important role in the development of Islam than Jesus 
did in the development of Christianity. Although Jesus was re- 
sponsible for the main ethical and moral precepts of Christianity 
(insofar as these differed from Judaism), it was St. Paul who was 
the main developer of Christian theology, its principal proselytizer, 
and the author of a large portion of the New Testament. 

Muhammad, however, was responsible for both the theology 
of Islam and its main ethical and moral principles. In addition, he 
played the key role in proselytizing the new faith, and in establish- 
ing the religious practices of Islam. Moreover, he is the author of 
the Moslem holy scriptures, the Koran, a collection of Muham- 
mad’s statements that he believed had been divinely inspired. 
Most of these utterances were copied more or less faithfully during 
Muhammad's lifetime and were collected together in authoritative 
form not long after his death. The Koran, therefore, closely repre- 
sents Muhammad's ideas and teachings and, to a considerable 
extent, his exact words. No such detailed compilation of the teach- 
ings of Christ has survived. Since the Koran is at least as impor- 
tant to Moslems as the Bible is to Christians, the influence of 
Muhammad through the medium of the Koran has been enormous. 
It is probable that the relative influence of Muhammad on Islam 
has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus Christ and 
St. Paul on Christianity. On the purely religious level, then, it 
seems likely that Muhammad has been as influential in human 
history as Jesus. 

Furthermore, Muhammad (unlike Jesus) was a secular as 
well as a religious leader. In fact, as the driving force behind the 
Arab conquests, he may well rank as the most influential political 
leader of all time. 

Of many important historical events, one might say that 
they were inevitable and would have occurred even without the 
particular political leader who guided them. For example, the 
South American colonies would probably have won their inde- 
pendence from Spain even if Simon Bolivar had never lived. But 

10 THE 100 

this cannot be said of the Arab conquests. Nothing similar had 
occurred before Muhammad, and there is no reason to believe 
that the conquests would have been achieved without him. The 
only comparable conquests in human history are those of the 
Mongols in the thirteenth century, which were primarily due to 
the influence of Genghis Khan. These conquests, however, 
though more extensive than those of the Arabs, did not prove 
permanent, and today the only areas occupied by the Mongols 
are those that they held prior to the time of Genghis Khan. 

It is far different with the conquests of the Arabs. From Iraq 
to Morocco, there extends a whole chain of Arab nations united 
not merely by their faith in Islam, but also by their Arabic 
language, history, and culture. The centrality of the Koran in the 
Moslem religion and the fact that it is written in Arabic have 
probably prevented the Arab language from breaking up into 
mutually unintelligible dialects, which might otherwise have oc- 
curred in the intervening thirteen centuries. Differences and 
divisions between these Arab states exist, of course, and they are 
considerable, but the partial disunity should not blind us to the 
important elements of unity that have continued to exist. For in- 
stance, neither Iran nor Indonesia, both oil-producing states and 
both Islamic in religion, joined in the oil embargo of the winter 
of 1973-74. It is no coincidence that all of the Arab states, and 
only the Arab states, participated in the embargo. 

We see, then, that the Arab conquests of the seventh cen- 
tury have continued to play an important role in human history, 
down to the present day. It is this unparalleled combination of 
secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad 
to be considered the most influential single figure in human 




Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night: 
God said, Let Newton be! and all was light. 

Isaac Newton, the greatest and most influential scientist who 
ever lived, was born in Woolsthorpe, England, on Christmas 
Day, 1642, the same year that Galileo died. Like Muhammad, 
he was born after the death of his father. As a child, he showed 
considerable mechanical aptitude, and was very clever with his 
hands. Although a bright child, he was inattentive in school and 
did not attract much attention. When he was a teenager, his 
mother took him out of school, hoping that he would become a 
successful farmer. Fortunately, she was persuaded that his prin- 
cipal talents lay elsewhere, and at eighteen, he entered Cam- 
bridge University. There, he rapidly absorbed what was then 
known of science and mathematics, and soon moved on to his 
own independent research. Between his twenty-first and 
twenty-seventh years, he laid the foundations for the scientific 
theories that subsequently revolutionized the world. 

The middle of the seventeenth century was a period of great 
scientific ferment. The invention of the telescope near the begin- 


12 THE 100 

ning of the century had revolutionized the entire study of 
astronomy. The English philosopher Francis Bacon and the 
French philosopher René Descartes had both urged scientists 
throughout Europe to cease relying on the authority of Aristotle 
and to experiment and observe for themselves. What Bacon and 
Descartes had preached, the great Galileo had practiced. His 
astronomical observations, using the newly invented telescope, 
had revolutionized the study of astronomy, and his mechanical 
experiments had established what is now known as Newton’s first 
law of motion. 

Other great scientists, such as William Harvey, who 
discovered the circulation of the blood, and Johannes Kepler, 
who discovered the laws describing the motions of the planets 
around the sun, were bringing new basic information to the 
scientific community. Still, pure science was largely a plaything 
of intellectuals, and as yet there was no proof that when applied 
to technology, science could revolutionize the whole mode of 
human life, as Francis Bacon had predicted. 

Although Copernicus and Galileo had swept aside some of 
the misconceptions of ancient science and contributed to a great- 
er understanding of the universe, no set of principles had been 
formulated that could turn this collection of seemingly unrelated 

. facts into a unified theory with which to make scientific predic- 

tions. It was Isaac Newton who supplied that unified theory and 
set modern science on the course which it has followed ever since. 

Newton was always reluctant to publish his results, and 
although he had formulated the basic ideas behind most of his 
work by 1669, many of his theories were not made public until 
much later. The first of his discoveries to be published was his 
ground-breaking work on the nature of light. In a series of 
careful experiments, Newton had discovered that ordinary white 
light is a mixture of all the colors of the rainbow. He had also 
made a careful analysis of the consequences of the laws of the 
reflection and refraction of light. Using these laws, he had in 
1668 designed and actually built the first reflecting telescope, the 
type of telescope that is used in most major astronomical obser- 

Isaac Newton 13 

vatories today. These discoveries, together with the results of 
many other optical experiments which he had performed, were 
presented by Newton before the British Royal Society when he 
was twenty-nine years old. | 

Newton's achievements in optics alone would probably enti- 
tle him to a place on this list; however, they are considerably less 
important than his accomplishments in pure mathematics and 
mechanics. His major mathematical contribution was his inven- 
tion of integral calculus, which he probably devised when he was 
twenty-three or twenty-four years old. That invention, the most 
important achievement of modern mathematics, is not merely 
the seed out of which much of modern mathematical theory has 
grown, it is also the essential tool without which most of the 
subsequent progess in modern science would have been impos- 
sible. Had Newton done nothing else, the invention of integral 
calculus by itself would have entitled him to a fairly high place 
on this list. 

Newton’s most important discoveries, however, were in the 
field of mechanics, the science of how material objects move. 
Galileo had discovered the first law of motion, which describes 
the motion of objects if they are not subjected to any exterior 
forces. In practice, of course, all objects are subjected to exterior 
forces, and the most important question in mechanics is how ob- 
jects move under such circumstances. This problem was solved 
by Newton in his famous second law of motion, which may right- 
ly be considered the most fundamental law of classical physics. 
The second law (described mathematically by the equation 
F = ma) states that the acceleration of an object (i.e., the rate at 
which its velocity changes) is equal to the net force on the object 
divided by the object’s mass. To those first two laws, Newton ad- 
ded his famous third law of motion (which states that for each 
action—i.e., physical force—there is an equal and opposite reac- 
tion), and the most famous of his scientific laws, the law of 
universal gravitation. This set of four laws, taken conjointly, 
form a unified system by means of which virtually all macro- 
scopic mechanical systems, from the swinging of a pendulum to 

14 THE 100 

the motion of the planets in their orbits around the sun, may be 
investigated, and their behavior predicted. Newton did not 
merely state these laws of mechanics; he himself, using the math- 
ematical tools of the calculus, showed how these fundamental 
laws could be applied to the solution of actual problems. 

-Newton’s laws can be and have been applied to an extremely 
broad range of scientific and engineering problems. During his 
lifetime, the most dramatic application of his laws was made in 
the field of astronomy. In this area, too, Newton led the way. In 
1687, he published his great work, the Mathematical Principles 
of Natural Philosophy (usually referred to simply as the 
Principia), in which he presented his law of gravitation and laws 
of motion. Newton showed how these laws could be used to pre- 
dict precisely the motions of the planets around the sun. The 
principal problem of dynamical astronomy—that is, the problem 
of predicting exactly the positions and motions of the stars and 
planets—was thereby completely solved by Newton in one mag- 
nificent sweep. For this reason, Newton is often considered the 
greatest of all astronomers. 

What, then, is our assessment of Newton’s scientific im- 
portance? If one looks at the index of an encyclopedia of science, 
one will find more references (perhaps two or three times as 
many) to Newton and to his laws and discoveries than to any 
other individual scientist. Furthermore, one should consider 
what other great scientists have said about Newton. Leibniz, no 
friend of Sir Isaac’s, and a man with whom he engaged in a bitter 
dispute, wrote: “Taking mathematics from the beginning of the 
world to the time when Newton lived, what he has done is much 
the better part.” The great French scientist Laplace wrote: “The 
Principia is preeminent above any other production of human 
genius.” Lagrange frequently stated that Newton was the great- 
est genius who ever lived, while Ernst Mach, writing in 1901, 
said: “All that has been accomplished in mathematics since his 
day has been a deductive, formal, and mathematical develop- 
ment of mechanics on the basis of Newton’s laws.” This, per- 
haps, is the crux of Newton’s great accomplishment: he found 

Se as 

ja . 
Pen ty 



Newton analyzes a ray of light. 

science a hodgepodge of isolated facts and laws, capable of de- 
scribing some phenomena but of predicting only a few; he left us 
a unified system of laws, which were capable of application to an 
enormous range of physical phenomena, and which could be 
used to make exact predictions. 

In a brief summary like this, it is not possible to detail all of 
Newton’s discoveries; consequently, many of the lesser ones have 


16 THE 100 

been omitted, although they were important achievements in 
their own right. Newton made significant contributions to ther- 
modynamics (the study of heat) and to acoustics (the study of 
sound); he enunciated the extremely important physical prin- 
ciples of conservation of momentum and conservation of angular 
momentum; he discovered the binomial theorem in mathema- 
tics; and he gave the first cogent explanation of the origin of the 

Now, one might grant that Newton was by far the greatest 
and most influential scientist who ever lived but still ask why he 
should be ranked higher than such major political figures as Alex- 
ander the Great or George Washington, and ahead of such major 
religious figures as Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha. My own 
view is that even though political changes are of significance, it is 
fair to say that most people in the world were living the same 
way 500 years after Alexander’s death as their forebears had lived 
five centuries before his time. Similarly, in most of their daily ac- 
tivities, the majority of human beings were living the same way 
in 1500 a.p. as human beings had been living in 1500 B.c.. In the 
last five centuries, however, with the rise of modern science, the 
everyday life of most human beings has been completely revolu- 
tionized. We dress differently, eat different foods, work at dif- 
ferent jobs, and spend our leisure time a great deal differently 
than people did in 1500 a.p. Scientific discoveries have not only 
revolutionized technology and economics; they have also com- 
pletely changed politics, religious thinking, art, and philosophy. 
Few aspects of human activity have remained unchanged by this 
scientific revolution, and it is for this reason that so many scien- 
tists and inventors are to be found on this list. Newton was not 
only the most brilliant of all scientists; he was also the most influ- 
ential figure in the development of scientific theory, and there- 
fore well merits a position at or near the top of any list of the 
world’s most influential persons. 

Newton died in 1727, and was buried in Westminster Ab- 
bey, the first scientist to be accorded that honor. 


c.6 B.c. -c.30 A.D. 

The impact of Jesus on human history is so obvious and so enor- 
mous that few people would question his placement near the top 
of this list. Indeed, the more likely question is why Jesus, who is 
the inspiration for the most influential religion in history, has not 
been placed first. 

There is no question that Christianity, over the course of 
time, has had far more adherents than any other religion. 
However, it is not the relative influence of different religions that 
is being estimated in this book, but rather the relative influence 
of individual men. Christianity, unlike Islam, was not founded 
by a single person but by two people—Jesus and St. Paul—and 
the principal credit for its development must therefore be appor- 
tioned between those two figures. 

Jesus formulated the basic ethical ideas of Christianity, as 
well as its basic spiritual outlook and its main ideas concerning 
human conduct. Christian theology, however, was shaped prin- 
cipally by the work of St. Paul. Jesus presented a spiritual 
message; Paul added to that the worship of Christ. Furthermore, 


18 THE 100 

St. Paul was the author of a considerable portion of the New 
Testament, and was the main proselytizing force for Christianity 
during the first century. 

Jesus was still fairly young when he died (unlike Buddha or 
Muhammad), and he left behind a limited number of disciples. 
At the time of Jesus’ death, his followers simply formed a small 
Jewish sect. It was due in considerable measure to Paul’s 
writings, and to his tireless proselytizing efforts, that this small 
sect was transformed into a dynamic and much greater move- 
ment, which reached non-Jews as well as Jews, and which even- 
tually grew into one of the great religions of the world. 

For these reasons, some people even contend that it is Paul, 
rather than Jesus, who should really be considered the founder of 
Christianity. Carried to its logical conclusion, that argument 
would lead one to place Paul higher on this list than Jesus! 
However, although it is not clear what Christianity would be like 
without the influence of St. Paul, it is quite apparent that with- 
out Jesus, Christianity would not exist at all. 

However, it does not seem reasonable to consider Jesus 
responsible for all the things which Christian churches or in- 
dividual Christians later did in his name, particularly since he 
would obviously disapprove of many of those things. Some of 
them—for example the religious wars between various Christian 
sects, and the barbaric massacres and persecutions of the Jews— 
are in such obvious contradiction to the attitudes and teachings 
of Jesus that it seems entirely unreasonable to say that Jesus in- 
spired them. 

Similarly, even though modern science first arose in the 
Christian nations of western Europe, it seems inappropriate to 
think of Jesus as responsible for the rise of science. Certainly, 
none of the early Christians interpreted the teachings of Jesus as a 
call for scientific investigation of the physical world. Indeed, the 
conversion of the Roman world to Christianity was accompanied 
and followed by a drastic decline in both the general level of 
technology and the general degree of interest in science. 

That science did eventually arise in Europe is indeed an in- 

,dication that there was something in the European cultural 

Jesus Christ 19 

heritage that was favorable to the scientific way of thinking. 
That something, however, was not the sayings of Jesus, but 
rather Greek rationalism, as typified by the works of Aristotle 
and Euclid. It is noteworthy that modern science developed, not 
during the heyday of church power and of Christian piety, but 
rather on the heels of the Renaissance, a period during which 
Europe experienced a renewal of interest in its pre-Christian 

The story of Jesus’ life, as it is related in the New Testament, 
is familiar to most readers and will not be repeated here. 
However, a few points are worth noting. In the first place, most 
of the information that we have about Jesus’ life is uncertain. We 
are not even sure what his original name was. Most probably it 
was the common Jewish name, Yehoshua (Joshua in English). 
The year of his birth, too, is uncertain, although 6 B.c. is a likely 
date. Even the year of his death, which must have been well 
known to his followers, is not definitely known today. Jesus 
himself left no writings behind, and virtually all our information 
concerning his life comes from the accounts in the New Testa- 

Unfortunately, the Gospels contradict each other on various 
points. For example, Matthew and Luke give completely dif- 
ferent versions of Jesus’ last words; both of these versions, inci- 
dentally, are direct quotations from the Old Testament. 

It was no accident that Jesus was able to quote from the Old 
Testament; though the progenitor of Christianity, he was himself 
a devout Jew. It has been frequently pointed out that Jesus was 
in many ways very similar to the Hebrew prophets of the Old 
Testament, and was deeply influenced by them. Like the pro- 
phets, Jesus had an extraordinarily impressive personality, which 
made a deep and lasting impression on the people who met him. 
He was charismatic in the deepest and fullest sense of the word. 

However, in sharp contrast to Muhammad, who exercised 
political as well as religious authority, Jesus had virtually no in- 
fluence on political developments during his own lifetime, or 
during the succeeding century. (Both men, of course, have had 
an enormous indirect influence on long-term political develop- 

20 THE 100 

ments.) Jesus made his influence felt entirely as an ethical and 
spiritual leader. : 

If it was primarily as an ethical leader that Jesus left his 
mark, it is surely pertinent to ask to what extent his ethical ideas 
have influenced the world. One of Jesus’ central precepts, cer- 
tainly, was the Golden Rule. Today, the Golden Rule is accepted 
- by most people, Christians and non-Christians alike, as a 
reasonable guide to moral conduct. We may not always act in ac- 
cordance with it, but we usually try to do so. If Jesus had actual- 
ly originated that almost universally accepted principle, he 
would surely have been the first man on this list. 

In fact, though, the Golden Rule was an accepted precept of 
Judaism long before Jesus was born. Rabbi Hillel, the leading 
Jewish rabbi of the first century B.c., explicitly enunciated the 
Golden Rule and pronounced it the foremost principle of 
Judaism. Nor was the notion known only to the Western world. 
The Chinese philosopher Confucius had proposed it in about 500 
B.c., and the saying also appears in the Mahabharata, an ancient 
Hindu poem. In fact, the philosophy behind the Golden Rule is 
accepted by almost every major religious group. 

Does this mean that Jesus had no original ethical ideas? Not 
at all! A highly distinctive viewpoint is presented in Matthew 

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy 
neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love 
your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them 
that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use 
you, and persecute you. 


And a few lines earlier: “...resist not evil: but whosoever 
shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” 

Now, these ideas—which were not a part of the Judaism of 
Jesus’ day, nor of most other religions—are surely among the 
most remarkable and original ethical ideas ever presented. If 
they were widely followed, I would have had no hesitation in 
placing Jesus first in this book. 

But the truth is that they are not widely followed. In fact, 

Rembrandt’s “Hundred Guilder Print” of Christ preaching. 

they are not even generally accepted. Most Christians consider 
the injunction to “Love your enemy” as—at most—an ideal 
which might be realized in some perfect world, but one which is 
not a reasonable guide to conduct in the actual world we live in. 
We do not normally practice it, do not expect others to practice 
it, and do not teach our children to practice it. Jesus’ most dis- 
tinctive teaching, therefore, remains an intriguing but basically 
untried suggestion. 


4 BUDDHA 963 B.c.- 483 B.c. 


Gautama Buddha, whose original name was Prince Siddhartha, 
was the founder of Buddhism, one of the world’s great religions. 
Siddhartha was the son of a king ruling in Kapilavastu, a city in 
northeast India, near the borders of Nepal. Siddhartha himself 
(of the clan of Gautama and the tribe of Sakya) was purportedly 
born in 563 s.c., in Lumbini, within the present borders of 
Nepal. He was married at sixteen to a cousin of the same age. 
Brought up in the luxurious royal palace, Prince Siddhartha did 
not want for material comforts. Nevertheless, he was profoundly 
dissatisfied. He observed that most human beings were poor and 
continually suffered from want. Even those who were wealthy 
were frequently frustrated and unhappy, and all men were sub- 
ject to disease and ultimately succumbed to death. Surely, Sid- 

Buddha 23 

dhartha thought, there must be more to life than transitory plea- 
sures, which were all too soon obliterated by suffering and death. 

When he was twenty-nine, just after the birth of his first 
son, Gautama decided that he must abandon the life he was liv- 
ing and devote himself wholeheartedly to the search for truth. 
He departed from the palace, leaving behind his wife, his infant 
son, and all his worldly possessions, and became a penniless 
wanderer. For a while he studied with some of the famed holy 
men of the day, but after mastering their teachings, he found 
their solutions to the problems of the human situation unsatisfac- 
tory. It was widely believed that extreme asceticism was the 
pathway to true wisdom. Gautama therefore attempted to 
become an ascetic, for several years engaging in extreme fasts 
and self-mortification. Eventually, however, he realized that 
tormenting his body only clouded his brain, without leading him 
any closer to true wisdom. He therefore resumed eating normal- 
ly, and abandoned asceticism. 

In solitude, he grappled with the problems of human ex- 
istence. Finally, one evening, as he sat beneath a giant fig tree, 
all the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fall into place. Siddhartha 
spent the whole night in deep reflection, and when the morning 
came, he was convinced that he had found the solution and that 
he was now a Buddha, an “enlightened one.” 

At this time, he was thirty-five years old. For the remaining 
forty-five years of his life, he traveled throughout northern In- 
dia, preaching his new philosophy to all who were willing to 
listen. By the time he died, in 483 B.c., he had made thousands of 
converts. Though his words had not been written down, his 
disciples had memorized many of his teachings, and they were 
passed to succeeding generations by word of mouth. 

The principal teachings of the Buddha can be summarized 
in what Buddhists call the “Four Noble Truths”: first, that 
human life is intrinsically unhappy; second, that the cause ot this 
unhappiness is human selfishness and desire; third, that in- 
dividual selfishness and desire can be brought to an end—the 
resulting state, when all desires and cravings have been 

24 THE 100 

eliminated, is termed nirvana (literally “blowing out” or “‘extinc- 
tion’): fourth, that the method of escape from selfishness and 
desire is what is called the “Eightfold Path”: right views, right 
thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, 
right mindfulness, and right meditation. It might be added that 
Buddhism is open to all, regardless of race, and that (unlike Hin- 
duism) it recognizes no distinctions of caste. 

For some time after Gautama’s death the new religion 
spread slowly. In the third century sB.c., the great Indian 
emperor Asoka became converted to Buddhism. His support 
brought about the rapid expansion of Buddhist influence and 
teachings in India and the spread of Buddhism to neighboring 
countries. Buddhism spread south into Ceylon, and eastward in- 
to Burma. From there it spread into all of southeast Asia, and 
down into Malaya, and into what is now Indonesia. Buddhism 
also spread north, directly into Tibet, and to the northwest, into 
Afghanistan and Central Asia. It spread into China, where it 
won a large following, and from there into Korea and Japan. 

Within India itself, the new faith started to decline after 
about 500, and almost vanished after about 1200. In China and 
Japan, on the other hand, Buddhism remained a major religion. 
In Tibet and in southeast Asia, it has been the principal religion 
for many centuries. 

Buddha’s teachings were not written down until several 
centuries after his death, and, understandably, his movement 
has split into various sects. The two principal divisions of Bud- 
dhism are the Theravada branch, dominant in southern Asia, 
and considered by most Western scholars as the one closer to the 
Buddha’s original teachings, and the Mahayana branch, dom- 
inant in Tibet, China, and northern Asia generally. 

Buddha, as the founder of one of the world’s major 
religions, clearly deserved a place near the head of this list. Since 
there are only about 200 million Buddhists in the world, com- 
pared with over 500 million Moslems and about one billion 
Christians, it would seem evident that Buddha has influenced 
fewer people than either Muhammad or Jesus. However, the dif- 

$ ae 
= mf ad = eS 
a Te = “me 
bes ~ Nyame pee eee x Ty Spee a — 
Dine Dh eee te ae 

The belfry of a Japanese Buddhist temple. 7 

ference in numbers can be misleading. One reason that Bud- 
dhism died out in India is that Hinduism absorbed many of its 
ideas and principles. In China, too, large numbers of persons 
who do not call themselves Buddhists have been strongly in- 
fluenced by Buddhist philosophy. 

Buddhism, far more than Christianity or Islam, has a very 
strong pacifist element. The orientation toward nonviolence has 
played a significant role in the political history of Buddhist coun- 


26 THE 100 

It has often been said that if Christ were to return to earth, 
he would be shocked at many of the things which have been done 
in his name, and horrified at the bloody fights between different 
sects of persons who call themselves his followers. Buddha, too, 
would doubtless be amazed at many of the doctrines that have 
been presented as Buddhist. But while there are many sects of 
Buddhism, and large differences between those sects, there is 
nothing in Buddhist history that remotely compares with the 
bloody religious wars that took place in Christian Europe. In this 
respect, at least, Buddha’s teachings seem to have had far greater 
influence on his followers than Christ’s teachings had on his. 

Buddha and Confucius have had an approximately equal in- 
fluence upon the world. Both lived at about the same time, and 
the number of their adherents has not been too different. I have 
chosen to place Buddha before Confucius for two reasons: first, 
the advent of Communism in China seems to have greatly 
diminished Confucian influence; and second, the failure of Confu- 
cianism to spread widely outside of China indicates how closely 
the ideas of Confucius were grounded in pre-existing Chinese atti- 
tudes. Buddhist teachings, on the other hand, are in no sense a 
restatement of previous Indian phi- 
losophy, and Buddhism has spread 
far beyond the boundaries of India 
due to the originality of Gautama 
Buddha's concept, and the wide ap- 
peal of his philosophy. 

“Buddha’s Return from Heaven,” 
by Nanda Lal Bose. 



55 1 s.c.-47 9 B.c. 

The great Chinese philosopher Confucius was the first man to 
develop a system of beliefs synthesizing the basic ideas of the 
Chinese people. His philosophy, based on personal morality and 
on the concept of a government that served its people and ruled 
by moral example, permeated Chinese life and culture for well 
over two thousand years, and has greatly influenced a substantial 
portion of the world’s population. 

Confucius was born about 551 B.c., in the small state of Lu, 
which is in the present province of Shantung, in northeastern 
China. His father died when he was quite young, and Confucius 
and his mother lived in poverty. As a young man, the future 
philosopher served as a minor government official, but after 
several years he resigned his post. He spent the next sixteen years 
teaching, attracting a considerable number of disciples to his 
philosophy. When he was about fifty years old, he was awarded 
a high position in the government of Lu; however, after about 
four years, enemies at court brought about his dismissal, and, in- 
deed, his exile from the state. He spent the next thirteen years as 


28 THE 100 

an itinerant teacher, and then returned to his home state for the 
last five years of his life. He died in 479 B.c. 

Confucius is often credited as the founder of a religion, but 
this description is inaccurate. He very rarely referred to the Dei- 
ty, refused to discuss the afterlife, and avoided all forms of 
metaphysical speculation. He was basically a secular 
philosopher, interested in personal and political morality and 

The two most important virtues, according to Confucius, 
are jen and li, and the superior man guides his conduct by them. 
Jen has sometimes been translated as “love,” but it might better 
be defined as “benevolent concern for one’s fellow men.” Li 
describes a combination of manners, ritual, custom, etiquette, 
and propriety. 

Ancestor worship, the basic Chinese religion even before 
Confucius, was reinforced by the strong emphasis that he placed 
on family loyalty and respect for one’s parents. Confucius also 
taught that respect and obedience were owed by wives to their 
husbands and by subjects to their rulers. But the Chinese sage did 
not approve of tyranny. He believed that the state exists for the 
benefit of the people, not vice versa, and he repeatedly stressed 
that a ruler should govern primarily by moral example rather 
than by force. Another of his tenets was a slight variant of the 
Golden Rule: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do 
to others.” 

Confucius’s basic outlook was highly conservative. He 
believed that the Golden Age was in the past, and he urged both 
rulers and people to return to the good old moral standards. In 
fact, however, the Confucian ideal of government by moral ex- 
ample had not been the prevailing practice in earlier times, and 
Confucius was therefore a more innovative reformer than he 
claimed to be. 

Confucius lived during the Chou dynasty, a period of great 
intellectual ferment in China. Contemporary rulers did not ac- 
cept his program, but after his death his ideas spread widely 
throughout his country. However, with the advent of the Ch’in 

The legendary meeting of Confucius (left) with Lao Tzu. 

dynasty, in 221 B.c., Confucianism fell upon evil days. The first 
emperor of the Ch’in dynasty, Shih Huang Ti, was determined to 
eradicate Confucius’s influence, and to make a clean break with 
the past. He ordered the suppression of Confucian teachings and 
the burning of all Confucian books. This attempt at suppression 
was unsuccessful, and when the Ch’in dynasty came to a close a 
few years later, Confucian scholars were again free to teach their 
doctrine. During the succeeding dynasty, the Han (206 s.c.- 
220 a.p.), Confucianism became established as the official Chi- 
nese state philosophy. 

Starting with the Han dynasty, Chinese emperors gradually 
developed the practice of selecting government officials by means 
of civil service examinations. In the course of time these examina- 
tions came to be based to a large extent on a knowledge of the 
Confucian classics. Since entry into the government bureaucracy 
was the main route to financial success and social prestige in the 
Chinese empire, the civil service examinations were extremely 
competitive. Consequently, for generations a large number of 
the most intelligent and ambitious young men in China devoted 
many years to intensive study of the Confucian classics, and, for 
many centuries the entire civil administration of China was com- 
posed of persons whose basic outlook had been permeated by the 
Confucian philosophy. This system endured in China (with some 
interruptions) for roughly two thousand years, from about 100 
B.c. to about 1900 a.p. 

But Confucianism was not merely the official philosophy of 


30 THE 100 

the Chinese administration. Confucian ideals were accepted by 
the majority of the Chinese people, and for over two thousand 
years deeply influenced their life and thought. 

There are several reasons for Confucius’s enormous appeal 
to the Chinese. First, his personal sincerity and integrity were 
beyond question. Second, he was a moderate and practical per- 
son, and did not demand of men what they could not achieve. If 
he asked them to be honorable, he did not expect them to be 
saintly. In this regard as in others, he reflected the practical 
temperament of the Chinese people. And this perhaps, was the 
key to the immense success that his ideas achieved in China. Con- 
fucius was not asking the Chinese to change their basic beliefs. 
Rather, he was restating, in a clear and impressive form, their 
basic traditional ideals. Perhaps no philosopher in history has 
been so closely in touch with the fundamental views of his coun- 
trymen as Confucius. | 

Confucianism, which stresses the obligations of individuals 
rather than their rights, may seem rather stodgy and unappeal- 
ing by current Western standard. As a philosophy of govern- 
ment, though, it proved remarkably effective in practice. Judged 
on the basis of its ability to maintain internal peace and prosper- 
ity, China, for a period of two thousand years, was on the 
average the best- governed region on earth. 

The ideals of Confucius, closely grounded as they are in 
Chinese culture, have not been widely influential outside East 
Asia. They have, however, had a major impact in Korea and 
Japan, both of which have been greatly influenced by Chinese 
culture. — 

At the present time, Confucianism is in low estate in China. 
The Chinese Communists, in an effort to break completely with 
the past, have vigorously attacked Confucius and his doctrines, and 
it is possible that the period of his influence upon history has 
drawn to a close. In the past, however, the ideas of Confucius have 
proven to be very deeply rooted within China, and we should not 
be surprised if there is a resurgence of Confucianism in the course 
of the next century. 

O St. PAUL, saseceseos 

The apostle Paul, who was a younger contemporary of Jesus, 
became the foremost proselytizer of the new religion of Chris- 
tianity. His influence on Christian theology proved to be the 
most permanent and far-reaching of all Christian writers and 

Paul, also known as Saul, was born in Tarsus, a city in Cili- 
cia (in present-day Turkey), a few years into the Christian era. 
Although a Roman citizen, he was of Jewish birth, and in his 
youth he learned Hebrew and received a thorough Jewish educa- 
tion. He also learned the trade of tentmaking. As a young man, 
he went to Jerusalem to study under Rabbi Gamaliel, an eminent 
Jewish teacher. Though Paul was in Jerusalem at the same time 
as Jesus, it is doubtful whether the two men ever met. 


32 THE 100 

After the death of Jesus, the early Christians were regarded 
as heretics and suffered persecution. For a while, Paul himself 
participated in this persecution. However, during a journey to 
Damascus he had a vision in which Jesus spoke to him, and he 
was converted to the new faith. It was the turning point of his 
life. The one-time opponent of Christianity became the most 
vigorous and influential proponent of the new religion. 

Paul spent the rest of his life thinking and writing about 
Christianity, and winning converts to the new religion. During 
his missionary activities, he traveled extensively in Asia Minor, 
Greece, Syria, and Palestine. Paul was not as successful in 
preaching to the Jews as some of the other early Christians. In- 
deed, his manner often aroused great antagonism, and on several 
occasions his life was endangered. In preaching to non-Jews, 
however, Paul was outstandingly successful, so much so that he is 
often referred to as the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” No other man 
played so large a role in the propagation of Christianity. 

After three long missionary trips within the eastern part of 
the Roman Empire, Paul returned to Jerusalem. He was arrested 
there, and was eventually sent to Rome to stand trial. It is 
unclear how that trial ended, or if he ever left Rome. Eventually, 
however (most likely about 64 a.p.), he was executed near Rome. 

Paul’s immense influence on the development of Christiani- 
ty rests upon three things: (1) his great success as a missionary; (2) 
his writings, which constitute an important part of the New 
Testament; and (3) his role in the development of Christian 

Of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, no fewer 
than fourteen are attributed to Paul. Even though modern 
scholars believe that four or five of those books were actually 
written by other people, it is clear that Paul is the most impor- 
tant single author of the New Testament. 

Paul’s influence on Christian theology has been in- 
calculable. His ideas include the following: Jesus was not merely 

Detail of Michelangelo’s frescc 
“The Conversion of Saint Paul,” in the Vatica 

34 THE 100 

an inspired human prophet, but was actually divine. Christ died 
for our sins, and his suffering can redeem us. Man cannot achieve 
salvation by attempting to conform to biblical injunctions, but 
only by accepting Christ; conversely, if one accepts Christ, his 
sins will be forgiven. Paul also enunciated the doctrine of original 
sin (see Romans 5:12-19). 

Since obedience to the law alone cannot provide salvation, 
Paul insisted that there was no need for converts to Christianity 
to accept Jewish dietary restrictions, or to conform to the rituals 
of the Mosaic Code, or even to be circumcised. Several of the 
other early Christian leaders disagreed strongly with Paul on this 
point, and if their views had prevailed, it seems doubtful that 
Christianity would have spread so rapidly throughout the 
Roman Empire. 

Paul never married, and though there seems to be no way of 
proving it, he apparently never had sexual relations with a 
woman. His views on sex and on women, because of their in- 
corporation into Holy Scripture, have had a marked influence 
upon later attitudes. His most famous dictum on the subject (I 
Corinthians 7:8-9) is: “I say therefore to the unmarried and the 
widows, it is good for them if they can abide even as I. But if they 
cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to 

Paul also had rather strong ideas on the proper status of 
women: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But 
I suffer not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, 
but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed then Eve” (I 
Timothy 2:11-13). Similar ideas are expressed perhaps even more 
forcefully in I Corinthians 11:7-9. Doubtless, in such passages 
Paul was expressing a view already held by many of his contem- 
poraries; it is noteworthy, though, that Jesus does not appear to 
have made similar statements. 

Paul, more than any other man, was responsible for the 
transformation of Christianity from a Jewish sect into a world 
religion. His central ideas of the divinity of Christ and of 
justification by faith alone have remained basic to Christian 

St. Paul 35 

thought throughout all the intervening centuries. All subsequent 
Christian theologians, including Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, 
and Calvin, have been profoundly influenced by his writings. In- 
deed, the influence of Paul’s ideas has been so great that some 
scholars have claimed that he, rather than Jesus, should be 
regarded as the principal founder of the Christian religion. Such 
a view seems too extreme. However, even if Paul’s influence has 
not been on a par with Jesus’, it has been vastly greater than that 
of any other Christian thinker. 

Christian pilgrims march in a Good Friday procession on 
the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. 



fl.c.105 a.p 

Ts’ai Lun, the inventor of paper, is a man whose name is prob- 
ably unfamiliar to most readers. Considering the importance of 
his invention, the extent to which he has been ignored in the 
West is indeed surprising. There are major encyclopedias which 
do not have even brief articles on Ts’ai Lun, and his name is 
seldom mentioned in standard history textbooks. In view of the 
obvious importance of paper, this paucity of references to Ts’ai 
Lun may arouse suspicion that he is a purely apocryphal figure. 
Careful research, however, makes it absolutely clear that Ts’ai 
Lun was a real man, an official at the Chinese imperial court, 
who, in or about the year 105, presented Emperor Ho Ti with 
samples of paper. The Chinese account of Ts’ai Lun’s invention 

Tsai Lun 37 

(which appears in the official history of the Han dynasty) is en- 
tirely straightforward and believable, without the least hint of 
magic or legend about it. The Chinese have always credited Ts’ai 
Lun with the invention of paper, and his name is well known in 

Not a great deal is known about Ts’ai Lun’s life. Chinese 
records do mention that he was a eunuch. It is also recorded that 
the emperor was greatly pleased by Ts’ai Lun’s invention, and 
that as a result Ts’ai Lun was promoted, received an aristocratic 
title, and became wealthy. Later on, however, he became in- 
volved in palace intrigue, and this eventually led to his downfall. 
The Chinese records relate that upon his being disgraced, Ts’ai 
Lun took a bath, dressed in his finest robes, and drank poison. 

The use of paper became widespread in China during the 
second century, and within a few centuries the Chinese were ex- 
porting paper to other parts of Asia. For a long time, they kept 
the technique of papermaking a secret. In 751, however, some 
Chinese papermakers were captured by the Arabs, and not long 
afterwards paper was being manufactured in both Samarkand 
and Baghdad. The art of papermaking gradually spread 
throughout the Arab world, and in the twelfth century the Euro- 
peans learned the art from the Arabs. The use of paper gradually 
spread, and after Gutenberg invented modern printing, paper 
replaced parchment as the principal writing material in the 

Today, paper is so common that we take it for granted, and 
it is hard to envisage what the world was like without it. In 
China, before Tsai Lun, most books were made of bamboo. 
Obviously, such books were extremely heavy and clumsy. Some 
books were written on silk, but that was too expensive for general 
use. In the West, before paper was introduced, most books were 
written on parchment or vellum, which were made of specially 
processed sheepskin or calfskin. This material had replaced the 
papyrus favored by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. Both 
parchment and papyrus, however, not only were scarce, but 
were also expensive to prepare. 

38 THE 100 

That books and other written materials can today be pro- 
duced so cheaply and in such large quantities is due in con- 
siderable part to the existence of paper. It is true that paper 
would not be as important as it is today were it not for the print- 
ing press; however, it is equally true that the printing press 
would not be nearly so important were it not for the existence of 
a cheap and plentiful material on which to print. 

Which man, then, should be ranked higher: Ts’ai Lun or 
Gutenberg? Although I consider the two of almost equal im- 
portance, I have ranked Ts’ai Lun slightly higher for the follow- 
ing reasons: (1) Paper has many other applications besides its use 
as a writing material. In fact, it is an amazingly versatile 
material, and a large percentage of the paper currently produced 
is used for purposes other than printing. (2) Ts’ai Lun preceded 
Gutenberg, and it is altogether possible that Gutenberg would 
not have invented printing had paper not already existed. (3) If 
only one of the two had ever been invented, I suspect that more 
books would be produced by the combination of block printing 
(which was known long before Gutenberg) and paper than by 
the combination of movable type and parchment. 

Is it appropriate to include both Gutenberg and Ts’ai Lun 
among the ten most influential people who ever lived? In order to 
realize the full importance of the inventions of paper and print- 
ing, it is necessary to consider the relative cultural development 
of China and the West. Prior to the second century A.D., Chinese 
civilization was consistently less advanced than Western civil- 
ization. During the next millenium, China's accomplishments ex- 
ceeded those of the West, and for a period of seven or eight cen- 
turies, Chinese civilization was by most standards the most ad- 
vanced on earth. After the fifteenth century, however, western 
Europe outstripped China. Various cultural explanations for 
these changes have been advanced, but most such theories seem 
to ignore what I believe is the simplest explanation. 

It is true, of course, that agriculture and writing developed 
earlier in the Middle East than they did in China. That alone, 
however, would not explain why Chinese civilization so per- 

Tsai Lun 39 

sistently lagged behind that of the West. The crucial factor, I 
believe, was that prior to Ts’ai Lun there was no convenient 
writing material available in China. In the Western world, 
papyrus was available, and although that material had its 
drawbacks, papyrus rolls were infinitely superior to books made 
of wood or bamboo. Lack of a suitable writing material was an 
overpowering obstacle to Chinese cultural progress. A Chinese 
scholar needed a wagon to carry around what we would consider 
a quite modest number of books. One can imagine the difficulty 
of trying torun a government administration on such a basis! 

Ts’ai Lun’s invention of paper, however, changed the situ- 
ation entirely. With a suitable writing material available, 
Chinese civilization advanced rapidly, and within a few cen- 
turies, was able to catch up with the West. (Of course, political 
disunity in the West played a role, but that was far from being 
the whole story. In the fourth century, China was less united 
than the West, but nevertheless was developing rapidly in 
cultural matters.) During the succeeding centuries, while pro- 
gress in the West was comparatively slow, the Chinese brought 
forth such major inventions as the compass, gunpowder, and 
block printing. Since paper was cheaper than parchment, and 
available in larger quantities, the tables were now turned. 

After Western nations began using paper, they were able to 
hold their own vis-a-vis China, and even succeeded in narrowing 
the cultural gap. The writings of Marco Polo, however, confirm 
the fact that even in the thirteenth century, China was far more 
prosperous than Europe. 

Why, then, did China eventually fall behind the West? 
Various complex cultural explanations have been offered, but 
perhaps a simple technological one will serve. In fifteenth- 
century Europe, a genius named Johann Gutenberg developed a 
technique for the mass production of books. Thereafter, Euro- 
pean culture advanced rapidly. As China had no Gutenberg, the 
Chinese stayed with block printing, and their culture progressed 
relatively slowly. 

If one accepts the foregoing analysis, one is forced to the 

40 THE 100 

conclusion that Ts’ai Lun and Johann Gutenberg are two of the 
central figures in human history. Indeed, Ts’ai Lun stands out 
well above most other inventors for another reason. Most inven- 
tions are a product of their times, and would have come about 
even if the person who actually invented them had never lived. 
But such is clearly not the case with regard to paper. Europeans 
did not start to manufacture it until a thousand years after Ts’ai 
Lun, and then only because they had learned the process from 
the Arabs. For that matter, even after they had seen paper of 
Chinese manufacture, other Asian peoples were never able to 
discover how to manufacture it by themselves. Clearly, the 
invention of a method of manufacturing true paper was suffi- 
ciently difficult that it 
was not bound to occur 
in any moderately ad- 
vanced culture, but 
rather required the ex- 
plicit contribution of 
some very gifted indi- 
vidual. Ts’ai Lun was 
such an individual, and 
the method of paper- 
making that he em- 
ployed is (aside from 
mechanization, intro- 
duced about 1800 a.p.) 
basically the same 
technique that has been 
used ever since. 

These are the rea- 
sons I think it appropri- 
ate to place both Gut- 
enberg and Ts’ai Lun 
among the first ten per- 
sons in this book, with 
Ts’ai Lun ahead of 

Cut bamboo is washed and steeped in 
a water pit to prepare material for 
making paper. 




| lj 
Th all 

: Re 
or oa 

Pressing the sheets of paper. 





Johann Gutenberg is often called the inventor of printing. What 
he actually did was to develop the first method of utilizing 
movable type and the printing press in such a way that a large 
variety of written material could be printed with speed and 

No invention springs full-blown from the mind of a single 
man, and certainly printing did not. Seals and signet rings, 
which work on the same principle as block printing, had been 
used since ancient times. Block printing had been known in 
China many centuries before Gutenberg, and, in fact, a printed 
book dating from about 868 has been discovered there. The 
process was also known in the West before Gutenberg. Block 
printing makes possible the production of many copies of a given 

Johann Gutenberg 43 

book. However, the process has one major drawback: since a 
completely new set of woodcuts or plates must be made for each 
new book, it is impractical for producing a large variety of books. 
It is sometimes said that Gutenberg’s main contribution was 
the invention of movable type. However, movable type was 
invented in China, some time in the middle of the eleventh 
century, by a man named Pi Sheng. His original type was made 
of earthenware, which is not very durable; however, other 
Chinese and Koreans made a series of improvements, and well 
before Gutenberg, Koreans were using metal type. In fact, the 
Korean government was supporting a foundry for the production 
of printing type in the early fifteenth century. Despite all this, it 
would be a mistake to think of Pi Sheng as a particularly influen- 
tial person. In the first place, Europe did not learn of movable 
type from China, but developed it independently. In the second 
place, printing by means of movable type never came into 
general use in China itself until comparatively recent times, 
when modern printing procedures were learned from the West. 
There are four essential components of modern printing 
methods. The first is movable type, along with some procedure 
for setting it and fixing it in position. The second is the printing 
press itself. The third is a suitable type of ink, and the last is a 
suitable material, such as paper, on which to print. Paper had 
been invented in China many years earlier (by Ts’ai Lun), and its 
use had spread to the West before Gutenberg’s day. That was the 
only element of the printing process that Gutenberg found ready- 
made. Although some work had been done before him on each of 
the other three elements, Gutenberg made a variety of important 
improvements. For example, he developed a metal alloy suitable 
for type; a mold for casting blocks of type precisely and accurate- 
ly; an oil-based printing ink; and a press suitable for printing. 
But Gutenberg’s overall contribution was far greater than 
any of his individual inventions or improvements. He is impor- 
tant principally because he combined all the elements of printing 
into an effective system of production. For printing, unlike all 
prior inventions, is essentially a process of mass production. A 

44 THE 100 

single rifle is in itself a more effective weapon than a single bow 
and arrow. A single printed book, however, is no different in its 
effect from a single hand-written book. The advantage of print- 
ing therefore is mass production. What Gutenberg developed 
was not a single gadget or device, or even a series of im- 
provements, but a complete manufacturing process. 

Our biographical information concerning Gutenberg is 
scanty. We know that he was born about 1400, in the city of 
Mainz, Germany. His contributions to the art of printing were 
made in the middle of the century, and his best known work, the 

Gutenberg and friends examine the first printed page. 

nage _ . 
walk Wras lirus-natone anthh. 
dif orenfig-arre medic? - Dilci- 

ee  pulus apotolon-pottea 
ea @* paul fecur? ult ad ron: 
PV ferutens Dito fine cimine: 


“Tam np prorem wisp Habuit neg5 b 

lios:feptuaginea tc quatuoz annori 
obijt in birhinia- plea? {piritu fantto. 
Qui cs iam {eipta clone euaigeia -p 
math quidé in wMdra-p marci aie 
it talta‘fando tnthgante fpiricu mm 
agate pactibs toe fouphe euangelri: 
figuifirans ma ipe in principio ante 
{uti alia elle Deftnpta . Lui egrea ta 
ord ruagdic dilpolrionis epatte. 
ta marime necefittas laboris fuiccut 
primu greece fidelits onini pheean: 
One Derturi in rarne Dei cif: manife: 
Hata humanitate neiudaicis fabulif 
attentt :infolo (egis Deltderio tenecé, 
tur uel ne heecticis fabulis ec Bultia 
{olintationibs fegudi recidecent a we: 
ritare tlaborarct:Drbine-urm prind: 
pio angel iohanis natinitate pre- 
fumpra-cui tuangeltum forbecce ee in 
quo ded? ferikerce indicaret : corekast 
fe copleta effe-q effene ab alije inttpa. 
ta. Furideo pot baprifima flij dei a 
pfedione genecaromsi crifte implere. 
rept @ prinpio nanuitatic huma- 
ne poretas pmilla é: ut requirennbs 

Drmonftrarct in quo ayrehmdés e- 
rat pre nathan film tauid inteoitu ree 


facta -forte Doraim cechonis mimes 
rompleeecur = fieq3 pauls cofumma- 
tigne apottoliag acibs tarct-qué din 
cotta Bunnlu reealarcance Dns ref. 
fet. Quod ec legeaabs ac requirmns 
Deu - eh pee fingula cepedm a nobis 
utile furcat: {eens came wp opted 
agricola oporteat deluis feudibus ec: 
Deve- virawiny publica curiofitanm: 
ne nda volentbs tu mmoaltcare wrt. 

 vemur-qua fahipimnnbus prodinille, 

cee . , -g ALLE Pap LUBUS 

Ey <, Bona qui? mule m- 
a Nat {ir a2dinare nar: 
ratones RI nobis mm: 
ENG.) plere itr ret -Ihruc rradi- 
Kaley > prutnobis fab mis 

ipt recite - ce miniBri 

ears Trey tr 


_v, fuecut fmonisoila? et mich: affrcura 


TUNIS 1 De Qerarionis admifla. - 

indifparabilis m Poids in homini. 
bus mit fuit-pfrdi opus hois mdire 
in fe yr fit Faceeee: quai pee david pared 
wintenibus int Pbebat in ciBo. Lui 
duce non nniecira sia feribeOruM 
artuiapotoloy yrtasiminifeio 
Batur-ur Drain Deu pleno et Hlio poi- 
Notts cftinco-orarone ab ayoholis 

? bus gavon : te nomen tine -{izabery. 
 Srant autcminBi ambo aute Deum: 

a OMA a pricipio Diligiere cE odie nbi 
~~ Seober opne rophile : ur cognattas . 

FOR wetoy & Hbs eudir? co weraré.civt. 

NS Bit in dicbus trode ee 

‘gts iui {acrdos quitam 
eccceatd | TOMINE Sart arias De wi 
‘te abia-t uxorill be filia-- 

incedences in omnibus mandatis 3 
nftifirationibus Domini fine quer: 
la. Zenon eat ills fling - eo op 
fer elizabrety Rrcilis:ec ambo proce: 
fflent toiets fine. Fata fk aur ci fa 
revdorig Fungereur zarharias in ordi- 
nevis fur ance Dew: fem cofureudi: 
nem facedory {ore cgijr ue mentum 
ponerce mngedus wn canplii Domint. 
Ecomie multiudo pli teat ord fo: 
ne hora inemft. Ayparuit auran ill 
angeue Oi: Bans a degtia altaris 

A page from an original Gutenberg Bible. 


46 THE 100 

so-called Gutenberg Bible, was printed at Mainz, around 1454, 
(Curiously, Gutenberg’s name does not actually appear on any of 
his books, not even on the Gutenberg Bible, although it was 
clearly printed with his equipment.) He does not appear to have 
been a particularly good businessman; certainly he never man- 
aged to make much money on his invention. He was involved in 
several lawsuits, one of which seems to have resulted in his 
forfeiting his equipment to his partner, Johann Fust. Gutenberg 
died in 1468, in Mainz. 

Some idea of Gutenberg’s impact on world history can be 
gained by comparing the subsequent development of China and 
Europe. At the time Gutenberg was born, the two regions were 
about equally advanced technologically. But after Gutenberg’s 
invention of modern printing, Europe progressed very rapidly, 
while in China—where the use of block printing was continued 
until much later—progress was comparatively slow. It is prob- 
ably an overstatement to say that the development of printing 
was the only factor causing this divergence; certainly, however, 
it was an important factor. 

It is also worth noting that only three persons on this list 
lived during the five centuries preceding Gutenberg, whereas 
sixty-seven lived during the five centuries following his death. 
This suggests that Gutenberg’s invention was a major factor— 
possibly even the crucial factor—in triggering the revolutionary 
developments of modern times. 

It seems fairly certain that even had Alexander Graham Bell 
never lived, the telephone would still have been invented, and at 
about the same point in history. The same can be said of many 
other inventions. Without Gutenberg, though, the invention of 
modern printing might have been delayed for generations, and in 
view of the overwhelming impact of printing on subsequent 
history, Gutenberg assuredly deserves a high place on our list. 





Columbus, by attempting to find a westward route from Europe 
to the Orient, inadvertently discovered the Americas, and 
thereby had a greater influence on world history than he could 
possibly have anticipated. His discovery, which inaugurated the 
age of exploration and colonization in the New World, was one 
of the critical turning points in history. It opened to the people of 
Europe two new continents for the settlement of their expanding 
populations, and provided a source of mineral wealth and raw 
materials that altered the economy of Europe. His discovery led 
to the destruction of the civilizations of the American Indians. In 
the long run, it also led to the formation of a new set of nations in 
the western hemisphere, vastly different from the Indian nations 
which had once inhabited the region, and greatly affecting the 
nations of the Old World. 

The main outlines of Columbus’s story are well known. He 
was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. When he grew up, he became 
a ship’s captain and a skilled navigator. He eventually became 
convinced that it was possible to find a practical route to East 
Asia by sailing due west across the Atlantic Ocean, and he pur- 


“Columbus before Isabella,” by Vacslav Brozik. 


sued this idea with great tenacity. Eventually, he persuaded 
Queen Isabella I of Castile to finance his voyage of exploration. 

His ships left Spain on August 3, 1492. Their first stop was at 
the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. They left the Canaries 
on September 6 and sailed due west. It was a long voyage, and 
his sailors became frightened and wished to turn back. Colum- 
bus, however, insisted upon continuing, and on October 12, 
1492, land was sighted. 

Columbus arrived back in Spain the following March, and 
the triumphant explorer was received with the highest honors. 
He made three subsequent voyages across the Atlantic in the vain 
hope of making direct contact with China or Japan. Columbus 
clung to the idea that he had found a route to East Asia long after 
most other people realized that he had not. 

Isabella had promised Columbus that he would become 


Christopher Columbus 49 

governor of any lands which he discovered. However, he was so 
unsuccessful as an administrator that he was eventually relieved 
of his duties, and sent back to Spain in chains. There, he was 
promptly set free, but he was never again given an ad- 
ministrative postition. However, the common rumor that he died 
in poverty is without foundation. At the time of his death, in 
1506, he was fairly wealthy. 

It is obvious that Columbus’s first trip had a revolutionary 
impact upon European history, and an even greater effect on the 
Americas. The one date that every schoolchild knows is 1492. 
Still, there are several possible objections to ranking Columbus so 
high upon this list. 

One objection is that Columbus was not the first European 
to discover the New World. Leif Ericson, the Viking sailor, had 
reached America several centuries before him, and it is plausible 
that several other Europeans crossed the Atlantic in the interval 
between the Viking and Columbus. Historically, however, Leif 
Ericson is a relatively unimportant figure. Knowledge of his 
discoveries never became widespread, nor did they trigger any 
large changes in either Europe or America. News of Columbus’s 
discoveries, on the other hand, spread very rapidly throughout 
Europe. Within a few years of his return, and as a direct conse- 
quence of his discoveries, many additional expeditions to the 
New World were made and the conquest and colonization of the 
new territories began. 

Like other figures in this book, Columbus is vulnerable to 
the argument that what he did would have been accomplished 
even if he had never lived. Fifteenth-century Europe was already 
in a ferment: commerce was expanding, and exploration was in- 
evitable. The Portuguese, in fact, had actively been searching for 
a new route to the Indies for a considerable time before Colum- 

It indeed seems probable that America would sooner or later 
have been discovered by the Europeans; it is even possible that 
the delay would not have been very great. But subsequent 
developments would have been quite different if America had 

50 THE 100 

originally been discovered in 1510, say, by a French or English 
expedition, instead of in 1492 by Columbus. In any event, Col- 
umbus was the man who actually did discover America. 

The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria sail to the New World. 

A third possible objection is that even before Columbus’s 
voyages, many fifteenth-century Europeans already knew that 
the world was round. That theory had been suggested by Greek 
philosophers many centuries earlier, and the firm endorsement of 
the hypothesis by Aristotle was enough to cause its acceptance by 
educated Europeans in the 1400s. However, Columbus is not 
famous for showing that the earth was round. (As a matter of 
fact, he didn’t really succeed in doing that.) He is famous for 

Christopher Columbus 51 

discovering the New World, and neither fifteenth-century Euro- 
peans nor Aristotle had had any knowledge of the existence of the 
American continents. 

Columbus’s character was not entirely admirable. He was 
exceptionally avaricious; in fact, one important reason that Col- 
umbus encountered difficulties in persuading Isabella to finance 
him was that he drove an extremely greedy bargain. Also, though 
it may not be fair to judge him by today’s ethical standards, he 
treated the Indians with shocking cruelty. This is not, however, a 
list of the noblest characters in history, but rather of the most in- 
fluential ones, and by that criterion Columbus deserves a place 
near the top of the list. 

“The Landing of Columbus,” by John Vanderlyn. 




Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of the twentieth century 
and one of the supreme intellects of all time, is best known for his 
theory of relativity. There are actually two theories involved: the 
special theory of relativity, formulated in 1905, and the general 
theory of relativity, formulated in 1915, which might better be 
called Einstein’s law of gravitation. Both theories are highly 
complicated, and no attempt will be made to explain them here; 
however, a few comments on special relativity are in order. 

Albert Einstein 53 

A familiar maxim has it that “everything is relative.” Ein- 
stein’s theory, however, is not a repetition of this philosophical 
platitude, but rather a precise mathematical statement of the 
way in which scientific measurements are relative. It is obvious 
that subjective perceptions of time and space depend on the 
observer. Before Einstein, however, most people had always 
believed that behind these subjective impressions were real 
distances and an absolute time, which accurate instruments 
could measure objectively. Einstein’s theory revolutionized scien- 
tific thought by denying the existence of any absolute time. The 
following example may illustrate just how radically his theory 
revised our ideas of time and space. 

Imagine a spaceship, spaceship X, moving away from Earth 
at a speed of 100,000 kilometers per second. The speed is 
measured by observers on both the spaceship and on Earth, and 
their measurements agree. Meanwhile, another spaceship, 
spaceship Y, is moving in exactly the same direction as spaceship 
X, but at a much greater speed. If observers on Earth measure 
the speed of spaceship Y, they find that it is moving away from 
the Earth at a speed of 180,000 kilometers per second. Observers 
on spaceship Y will reach the same conclusion. 

Now, as both spaceships are moving in the same direction, it 
would seem that the difference in their speeds is 80,000 
kilometers per second, and that the faster ship must be moving 
away from the slower ship at this rate. 

However, Einstein’s theory predicts that when observations 
are taken from the two spaceships, observers on both ships will 
agree that the distance between them is increasing at the rate 
of 100,000 kilometers per second, not 80,000 kilometers per 

Now, on the face of it such a result is ridiculous, and the 
reader may suspect that some trick of wording is involved, or 
that some significant details of the problem have not been men- 
tioned. Not at all. The result has nothing to do with the details of 
construction of the spaceships or with the forces used to propel 
them. Nor is it due to any errors of observation, nor to any 

o4 THE 100 

defects in the measuring instruments. No trick is involved. Ac- 
cording to Einstein, the foregoing result (which can readily be 
computed from his formula for the composition of velocities) is 
a consequence only of the basic nature of time and space. 

Now, all of this may seem awfully theoretical, and indeed 
for years many persons dismissed the theory of relativity as a sort 
of “ivory tower” hypothesis, which had no practical significance. 
No one, of course, has made that mistake since 1945, when 
atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One of 
the conclusions of Einstein’s theory of relativity is that matter 
and energy are in a certain sense equivalent, and the relation be- 
tween them is given by the formula E=Mc? in which E 
represents energy, M equals mass, and c represents the speed of 
light. Now since c, which is equal to 186,000 miles per second, is 
a very large number, c? (that is, c times c) is a simply enormous 
number. It follows that even the partial conversion of a small 
amount of matter will release tremendous quantities of energy. 

One cannot, of course, build an atomic bomb or a nuclear 
power plant simply from the formula E = Mc?. It must be borne 
in mind, too, that many other persons played important roles in 
the development of atomic energy; however, the importance of 
Einstein’s contribution is indisputable. Furthermore, it was Ein- 
stein’s letter to President Roosevelt, in 1939, pointing out the 
possibility of developing atomic weapons and stressing the im- 
portance of the United States developing such weapons before 
the Germans did, which helped launch the Manhattan Project, 
and which led to the development of the first atomic bomb. 

Special relativity aroused heated controversy, but on one 
point everyone was agreed; it was the most mind-boggling scien- 
tific theory that would ever be invented. But everyone was 
wrong, for Einstein’s general theory of relativity takes as a start- 
ing point the premise that gravitational effects are not due to 
physical forces in the normal sense of the word, but rather result 
from a curvature of space itself—a truly astonishing idea! 

How can one measure a curvature of space itselfp What does 
it even mean to say that space is curved? Einstein had not only 

Albert Einstein 55 

advanced such a theory, but he had put his theory in a clear 
mathematical form, from which explicit predictions could be 
made and his hypothesis tested. Subsequent observations—the 
most celebrated of which are those made during total eclipses of 
the sun—have repeatedly confirmed the correctness of Einstein’s 

The general theory of relativity stands apart in several ways 
from all other scientific laws. In the first place, Einstein derived 
his theory not on the basis of careful experiments, but rather on 
grounds of symmetry and mathematical elegance—on ra- 
tionalistic grounds, as the Greek philosophers and the medieval 
scholastics had attempted to do. (In so doing, he ran counter to 
the basically empirical outlook of modern science.) But whereas 
the Greeks, in their search for beauty and symmetry, had never 
managed to find a mechanical theory that could survive the 
crucial test of experiment, Einstein’s theory has so far successful- 
ly withstood every test. One result of Einstein’s approach is that 
the general theory of relativity is generally acknowledged to be 
the most beautiful, elegant, powerful, and intellectually satisfy- 
ing of all scientific theories. 

General relativity stands apart in another way also. Most 
other scientific laws are only approximately valid. They hold in 
many circumstances, but not in all. So far as we know, however, 
there are no exceptions at all to the general theory of relativity. 
There is no known circumstance, either theoretical or ex- 
perimental, in which the predictions of general relativity are 
only approximately valid. Future experiments may mar the 
theory’s perfect record; but so far the general theory of relativity 
remains the closest approach to ultimate truth that any scientist 
has yet devised. 

Though Einstein is best known for his theories of relativity, 
his other scientific achievements would have won him renown as 
a scientist in any case. In fact, Einstein was awarded the Nobel 
Prize in physics primarily for his paper explaining the photo- 
electric effect, an important phenomenon that had previously 
puzzled physicists. In that paper, he postulated the existence of 


The atomic bomb explodes at Hiroshima, August 6, 1945. 

Albert Einstein 57 

photons, or particles of light. Since it had been long established 
through interference experiments that light consisted of electro- 
magnetic waves, and since it was considered “obvious” that 
waves and particles were antithetical concepts, Einstein’s 
hypothesis represented a radical and paradoxical break with 
classical theory. Not only did his photoelectric law turn out to 
have important practical applications, but his hypothesis of the 
photon had a major influence on the development of quantum 
theory, and is today an integral part of that theory. 

In evaluating Einstein’s importance, a comparison with 
Isaac Newton is revealing. Newton’s theories were basically easy 
to understand, and his genius lay in being the first to develop 
them. Einstein’s theories of relativity, on the other hand, are ex- 
tremely difficult to understand, even when they are carefully ex- 
plained. How much more difficult, therefore, to devise them 
originally! While some of Newton’s ideas were in strong con- 
tradiction to the prevailing scientific ideas of his time, his theory 
never appeared to lack self-consistency. The theory of relativity, 
on the other hand, abounds with paradoxes. It was part of Ein- 
stein’s genius that at the beginning, when his ideas were still the 
untested hypothesis of an unknown teenager, he did not let these 
apparent contradictions cause him to discard his theories. 
Rather, he carefully thought them through until he could show 
that these contradictions were apparent only, and that in each 
case there was a subtle but correct way of resolving the paradox. 

Today, we think of Einstein’s theory as being basically more 
“correct” than Newton’s. Why, then, is Einstein lower on this 
list? Primarily because it was Newton’s theories that laid the 
groundwork for modern science and technology. Most of modern 
technology would be the same today had only Newton’s work 
been done, and not Einstein’s. 

There is another factor which affects Einstein’s place on this 
list. In most cases, many men have contributed to the develop- 
ment of an important idea, as was obviously the case in the 
history of socialism, or in the development of the theory of elec- 
tricity and magnetism. Though Einstein does not deserve 100 

58 THE 100 

percent of the credit for the invention of the theory of relativity, 
he certainly deserves most of it. It seems fair to say that, to a 
larger degree than is the case for any other ideas of comparable 
importance, the theories of relativity are primarily the creation 
of a single, outstanding genius. 

Einstein was born in 1879, in the city of Ulm, Germany. He 
attended high school in Switzerland, and became a Swiss citizen 
in the year 1900. He received his Ph.D. in 1905 from the Univer- 
sity of Zurich, but was unable to find an academic position at 
that time. However, that same year, he published his papers on 
special relativity, on the photoelectric effect, and on the theory 
of Brownian motion. Within a few years, these papers, par- 
ticularly the one on relativity, established his reputation as one of 
the most brilliant and original scientists in the world. His theories 
were highly controversial; no modern scientist except Darwin 
has ever engendered as much controversy as Einstein. In spite of 
this, in 1913 he was appointed a professor at the University of 
Berlin, at the same time becoming director of the Kaiser Wilheim 
Institute of Physics and a member of the Prussian Academy of 
Science. These posts left him free to devote his full time to 
research, if he so chose. 

The German government had little reason to regret offering 
Einstein this unusually generous package, for just two years later 
he succeeded in formulating the general theory of relativity, and 
in 1921 he was awarded the Nobel Prize. For the last half of his 
life, Einstein was world-famous, in all probability the most 
famous scientist that ever lived. 

Since Einstein was Jewish, his situation in Germany became 
precarious when Hitler rose to power. In 1933, he moved to 
Princeton, New Jersey, to work at the Institute for Advanced 
Study, and in 1940 he became a United States citizen. Einstein’s 
first marriage ended in divorce; his second was apparently 
happy. He had two children, both boys. He died in 1955, in 

Einstein was always interested in the human world about 
him, and frequently expressed his views on political matters. He 

Albert Einstein 59 

was a consistent opponent of political tyranny, an ardent 
pacifist, and a firm supporter of Zionism. In matters of dress and 
social conventions, he was a marked individualist. He had a fine 
sense of humor, a becoming modesty, and some talent as a 
violinist. The inscription on Newton’s tomb might be applied 
even more appropriately to Einstein: “Let mortals rejoice that so 
great an ornament to the human race has existed!” 

ry na 

PE Aer 
a a beh aac, Le 


“Per ae 

Einstein discusses his theories. 



The French chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur is generally 
acknowledged to be the most important single figure in the 
history of medicine. Pasteur made many contributions to science, 
but he is most famous for his advocacy of the germ theory of 
disease and for his development of the technique of preventive 

Pasteur was born in 1822, in the town of Dole, in eastern 
France. As a college student in Paris, he studied science. His 
genius was not evident during his student days; in fact, one of his 
professors recorded him as “mediocre” in chemistry. However, 
after receiving his doctorate in 1847, Pasteur soon showed that 
his professor’s judgment had been in error. His research on the 

Louis Pasteur 61 

mirror-image isomers of tartaric acid made Pasteur a renowned 
chemist when he was only twenty-six years old. 

He then turned his attention to the study of fermentation, 
and showed that that process is due to the action of certain types 
of microorganisms. He also demonstrated that the presence of 
certain other species of microorganisms could produce 
undesirable products in the fermenting beverages. This soon led 
him to the idea that some species of microorganisms could pro- 
duce undesirable products and effects in human beings and other 

Pasteur was not the first person to suggest the germ theory of 
disease. Similar hypotheses had been advanced earlier by 
Girolamo Fracastoro, Friedrich Henle, and others. But it was 
Pasteur’s vigorous championship of the germ theory, substan- 
tiated by his numerous experiments and demonstrations, that 
were the principle factor in convincing the scientific community 
that the theory was correct. 

If diseases were caused by germs, it seemed logical that by 
preventing harmful germs from entering the human body, 
diseases might be avoided. Pasteur therefore stressed the im- 
portance of antiseptic methods for physicians, and he was a ma- 
jor influence on Joseph Lister who introduced antiseptic methods 
into surgical practice. 

Harmful bacteria can enter the human body through food 
and beverages. Pasteur developed a technique (called pasteuriza- 
tion) for destroying microorganisms in beverages. That tech- 
nique, where practiced, has all but eradicated contaminated milk 
as a source of infection. 

When he was in his mid-fifties, Pasteur turned his attention 
to the study of anthrax, a serious infectious disease which attacks 
cattle and many other animals, including human beings. Pasteur 
was able to show that a particular species of bacterium was 
responsible for the disease. Of far greater importance, however, 
was his development of a technique for producing a weakened 
strain of the anthrax bacillus. Injected into cattle, this weakened 
strain produced a mild form of the disease, which was not fatal 

62 THE 100 

but which enabled the cattle to develop an immunity to the nor- 
mal form of the disease. Pasteur’s public demonstration of the ef- 
fectiveness of his technique in immunizing cattle against anthrax 
aroused great excitement. It was soon realized that his general 
method might be applied to the prevention of many other com- 
municable diseases. 

Pasteur himself, in his most renowned single achievement, 
developed a technique for inoculating people against the dreaded 
disease of rabies. Other scientists, applying Pasteur’s basic ideas, 
have since developed vaccines against many other serious 
diseases, such as epidemic typhus and poliomyelitis. 

Pasteur in his laboratory. 

Louis Pasteur 63 

Pasteur, who was an unusually hard worker, has a variety of 
lesser but still useful achievements to his credit. It was his ex- 
periments, more than any others, which convincingly 
demonstrated that microorganisms do not arise through spon- 
taneous generation. Pasteur also discovered the phenomenon of 
anaerobiosis; i.e., that certain microorganisms can live in the 
absence of any air or free oxygen. Pasteur’s work on diseases of 
silkworms has been of great commercial value. Among his other 
achievements was the development of a vaccine for the preven- 
tion of chicken cholera, a disease that attacks fowl. Pasteur died 
in 1895, near Paris. 

A comparison is often made between Pasteur and Edward 
Jenner, the English physician who developed a vaccine against 
smallpox. Though Jenner’s work was done more than eighty 
years before Pasteur’s, I consider Jenner much less important 
because his method of immunization worked for only one 
disease, whereas Pasteur’s methods could be—and have been— 
applied to the prevention of a large number of diseases. 

Since the mid-nineteenth century, life expectancies in much 
of the world have roughly doubled. This enormous increase in 
human life spans has probably had a greater effect on the lives of 
individual human beings than has any other development in the 
entire history of the human race. In effect, modern science and 
medicine have presented each of us now living with virtually a 
second lifetime. If this increase in longevity could be solely at- 
tributed to the work of Pasteur, I would have had no hesitation 
at all in placing him first in this book. Nevertheless, Pasteur’s 
contributions are so fundamental that there is no question that he 
deserves the largest share of the credit for the decline in death 
rates that has occurred in the last century, and that he is there- 
fore assigned a high place on this list. 



1564- 1642 

Galileo Galilei, the great Italian scientist who was probably 
more responsible for the development of the scientific method 
than any other individual, was born in 1564, in the city of Pisa. 
As a young man, he studied at the University of Pisa, but drop- 
ped out for financial reasons. Nevertheless, he was able, in 1589, 
to obtain a teaching position at that university. A few years later, 
he joined the faculty of the University of Padua and remained 
there until 1610. It was during this period that the bulk of his 
scientific discoveries were made. 

Galileo’s first important contributions were made in 
mechanics. Aristotle had taught that heavy objects fall at a more 
rapid rate than light objects, and generations of scholars had ac- 
cepted this assertion on the Greek philosopher’s authority. 
Galileo, however, decided to test it, and through a series of ex- 
periments, he soon found that Aristotle had been incorrect. The 
fact is that heavy and light objects fall at the same velocity except 

Galileo Galilei 65 

to the extent that they are retarded by the friction of the air. (In- 
cidently, the tradition that Galileo performed these experiments 
by dropping objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa seems to be 
without foundation.) 

Having learned this, Galileo took the next step. He carefully 
measured the distance that objects fall in a given period of time 
and found that the distance traversed by a falling object is pro- 
portional to the square of the number of seconds it has been fall- 
ing. This discovery (which implies a uniform rate of acceler- 
ation) is significant in itself. Even more important, Galileo was 
able to summarize the results of a series of experiments by a 
mathematical formula. The extensive use of mathematical form- 
ulas and mathematical methods is an important characteristic of 
modern science. 

Another of Galileo’s major contributions was his discovery 
of the law of inertia. Previously, people had believed that a mov- 
ing object would naturally tend to slow down and stop unless 
some force were exerted to keep it moving. But Galileo’s ex- 
periments indicated that the common belief was erroneous. If 
retarding forces, such as friction, could be eliminated, a moving 
object would naturally tend to continue moving indefinitely. 
This important principle, which Newton restated clearly and in- 
corporated into his own system as the first law of motion, is one 
of the vital principles of physics. 

Illustration of Galilean law of 
leverage from Galileo’s physics 
textbook Mathematical Discourses 
and Demonstrations. 

Galileo's telescope. 

Galileo’s most celebrated discoveries were in the field of 
astronomy. Astronomical theory in the early 1600s was in a state 
of great ferment, with an important dispute going on between 
the followers of the heliocentric theory of Copernicus and the 
adherents of the earlier geocentric theory. As early as 1604, 
Galileo had announced his belief that Copernicus was correct, 
but at that time he had no method of proving it. In 1609, 
however, Galileo heard of the invention of the telescope in 
Holland. Although he had only the barest description of the 
device, Galileo’s genius was such that he was-.soon able to con- 
struct a vastly superior telescope himself. With this new tool, he 
turned his observational talents to the heavens, and in a single 
year made a whole series of major discoveries. 

He looked at the moon and saw that it was not a smooth 
sphere, but had numerous craters and high mountains on it. 
Celestial objects, he concluded, were not smooth and perfect 
after all, but had the same sort of irregularities that one observed 
on earth. He looked at the Milky Way and saw that it was not a 
milky, nebulous body after all, but was composed of an enor- 
mous number of individual stars, which were so far away that 
the naked eye tended to blur them together. He looked at the 

Galileo Galilei 67 

planets and saw that four moons revolved around Jupiter. Here 
was clear evidence that an astronomical body could revolve about 
a planet other than Earth. He looked at the sun and observed 
sunspots. (Actually, other persons had observed sunspots before 
him, but Galileo publicized his observations more effectively and 
brought sunspots to the attention of the scientific world.) He ob- 
served that the planet Venus had phases quite similar to the phases 
of the moon. This became a significant piece of evidence corrobo- 
rating the Copernican theory that the earth and all the other 
planets revolve around the sun. 

The invention of the telescope and the series of discoveries 
that resulted from it made Galileo famous. However, by sup- 
porting the theory of Copernicus he aroused opposition in impor- 
tant Church circles, and in 1616 he was ordered to refrain from 
teaching the Copernican hypothesis. Galileo chafed under this 
restriction for several years. When the Pope died, in 1623, he was 
succeeded by a man who had been an admirer of Galileo. The 
following year the new Pope, Urban VIII, hinted (though 
somewhat ambiguously) that the prohibition would no longer be 
in force. 

Galileo spent the next six years composing his most famous 
work, the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. 
This book was a masterly exposition of the evidence in favor of 
the Copernican theory, and the book was published in 1632 with 
the imprimatur of the Church censors. Nevertheless, Church 
authorities responded in anger when the book appeared, and 
Galileo was soon brought to trial before the Inquisition in Rome 
on charges of having violated the 1616 prohibition. 

It seems clear that many churchmen were unhappy with the 
decision to prosecute the eminent scientist. Even under the 
Church law of the time, the case against Galileo was ques- 
tionable, and he was given a comparatively light sentence. He 
was not, in fact, confined to jail at all, but merely to house arrest 
in his own comfortable villa in Arcetri. Theoretically, he was to 
have no visitors, but that provision of the sentence was not en- 

68 THE 100 

forced. His only other punishment was the requirement that he 
publicly recant his view that the earth moved around the sun. 
This the sixty-nine-year-old scientist did in open court. (There is 
a famous and probably apocryphal story that after he finished 
making his retraction, Galileo looked down to the earth and 
whispered softly, “It still moves.’’) In Arcetri he continued to 
write on mechanics. He died there, in 1642. 

Galileo’s enormous contribution to the advancement of 
science has long been recognized. His importance rests in part on 
his scientific discoveries such as the law of inertia, his invention 
of the telescope, his astronomical observations, and his genius in 
proving the Copernican hypothesis. Of greater importance, 

The Leaning Tower of 
Pisa, from which 
Galileo supposedly 
demonstrated the laws 
of falling bodies. 

Galileo Galilei 69 

however, is his role in the development of the methodology of 
science. Most previous natural! philosophers, taking their cues 
from Aristotle, had made qualitative observations and categoriz- 
ed phenomena; but Galileo measured phenomena and made 
quantitative observations. This emphasis on careful quantitative 
measurements has since become a basic feature of scientific 

Galileo is probably more responsible than any other man for 
the empirical attitude of scientific research. It was he who first 
insisted upon the necessity of performing experiments. He re- 
jected the notion that scientific questions could be decided by 
reliance upon authority, whether it be the pronouncements of 
the Church or the assertions of Aristotle. He also rejected reliance 
on complex deductive schemes that were not based on a firm 
foundation of experiment. Medieval scholastics had discussed at 
great length what should happen and why things happen, but 
Galileo insisted upon performing experiments to determine what 
actually did happen. His scientific outlook was distinctly non- 
mystical; in this respect, he was even more modern than some of 
his successors, such as Newton. 

Galileo, it might be noted, was a deeply religious man. De- 
spite his trial and conviction, he did not reject either religion or 
the church, but only the attempt of Church authorities to stifle 
investigation of scientific matters. Later generations have quite 
rightly admired Galileo as a symbol of revolt against dogmatism, 
and against authoritarian attempts to stifle freedom of thought. 
Of greater importance, however, is the role he played in found- 
ing modern scientific method. 




3°84 Bic.2-3 22 Bic. 

Aristotle was the greatest philosopher and scientist of the ancient 
world. He originated the study of formal logic, enriched almost 
every branch of philosophy, and made numerous contributions 
to science. 

Many of Aristotle’s ideas are outmoded today. But far more 
important than any of his individual theories is the rational ap- 
proach underlying his work. Implicit in Aristotle’s writings is the 
attitude that every aspect of human life and society may be an 
appropriate object of thought and analysis; the notion that the 
universe is not controlled by blind chance, by magic, or by the 
whims of capricious deities, but that its behavior is subject to ra- 
tional laws; the belief that it is worthwhile for human beings to 
conduct a systematic inquiry into every aspect of the natural 
world; and the conviction that we should utilize both empirical 
observations and logical reasoning in forming our conclusions. 
This set of attitudes—which is contrary to traditionalism, 
superstition, and mysticism—has profoundly influenced Western 

Aristotle was born in 384 s.c., in the town of Stagira, in 
Macedonia. His father was a prominent physician. At seventeen, 

Aristotle 71 

Aristotle went to Athens to study in the Academy of Plato. He re- 
mained there for twenty years, until shortly after Plato died. 
From his father, Aristotle may have gained an interest in biology 
and in “practical science’; under Plato he cultivated an interest 
in philosophical speculation. 

In 342 s.c., Aristotle returned to Macedonia to become the 
private tutor of the king’s son, a thirteen-year-old boy who was 
to become known to history as Alexander the Great. Aristotle 
tutored the young Alexander for several years. In 335 B.c., after 
Alexander had ascended the throne, Aristotle returned to Athens, 
where he opened his own school, the Lyceum. He spent the next 
twelve years in Athens, a period roughly coinciding with Alex- 
ander’s career of military conquest. Alexander did not ask his 
former tutor for advice, but he did provide him generously with 
funds for research. This was probably the first example in history 
of a scientist receiving large-scale government funding for his. 
research, and it was to be the last for centuries to come. 

Nevertheless, association with Alexander had its dangers. 
Aristotle was opposed on principle to the dictatorial style of Alex- 
ander, and when the conqueror executed Aristotle’s nephew on 
suspicion of treason, he seems to have considered executing 
Aristotle as well. But if Aristotle was too democratic for Alex- 
ander’s tastes, he was too closely associated with Alexander to be 
trusted by the Athenians. When Alexander died, in 323 B.c., the 
anti-Macedonian faction gained control in Athens, and Aristotle 
was indicted for “impiety.” Aristotle, recalling the fate of 
Socrates seventy-six years earlier, fled the city, saying that he 
would not give Athens a second chance to sin against philosophy. 
He died in exile a few months later, in 322 3.c., at the age of 
sixty-two. . 

The sheer quantity of Aristotle’s output is astonishing. 
Forty-seven of his works have survived, and ancient lists credit 
him with no fewer than 170 books. However, it is not merely the 
number of his works, but the enormous range of his erudition, 
which is amazing. His scientific works constitute a virtual en- 
cyclopedia of the scientific knowledge of his day. Aristotle wrote 


Portrait of Aristotle by Raphael, detail from “The School 
of Athens.” 

on astronomy, zoology, embryology, geography, geology, 
physics, anatomy, physiology, and almost every other field of 
learning known to the ancient Greeks. His scientific works repre- 
sent, in part, a compilation of knowledge already aquired by 
others; in part, the findings of assistants whom he hired to ac- 
quire data for him; and in part, the results of his own numerous 

To be a leading expert in every field of science is an incredi- 

Aristotle 73 

ble feat, and one not likely to be duplicated by any man in the 
future. But Aristotle achieved even more than that. He was also 
an original philosopher, and made major contributions to every 
area of speculative philosophy. He wrote on ethics and on 
metaphysics, on psychology and on economics, on theology and 
on politics, on rhetoric and on aesthetics. He wrote on education, 
poetry, barbarian customs, and the constitution of the Athe- 
nians. One of his research projects was a collection of the con- 
stitutions of a large number of different states, which he sub- 
jected to a comparative study. 

Perhaps most important of all was his work on the theory of 
logic, and Aristotle is generally considered the founder of this im- 
portant branch of philosophy. It was indeed the logical nature of 
his mind that enabled Aristotle to make contributions to so many 
fields. He had a gift for organizing thought, and the definitions 
that he proposed and the categories that he established have pro- 
vided the basis for later thought in many different fields. Never 
mystical and never an extremist, Aristotle is consistently the voice 
of practical common sense. He made mistakes, of course, but 
what is surprising is how few times in this vast encyclopedia of 
thought Aristotle made foolish errors. 

Aristotle’s influence upon all later Western thought has been 
immense. During ancient and medieval times, his works were 
translated into Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Italian, French, Hebrew, 
German, and English. The later Greek writers studied and ad- 
mired his works, and so did Byzantine philosophers. His work 
was a major influence on Islamic philosophy, and for centuries 
his writings dominated European thought. Averroés, perhaps the 
most famous ot all Arab philosophers, attempted to create a syn- 
thesis of Islamic theology and Aristotelian rationalism. 
Maimonides, the most influential of medieval Jewish thinkers, 
achieved a similar synthesis for Judaism. But the most celebrated 
such work was the great Summa Theologica of the Christian 
scholar, St. Thomas Aquinas. Far too many medieval scholars’ 
were deeply influenced by Aristotle to list them all. 

Admiration for Aristotle became so great that in late 

74 THE 100 

medieval times it approached idolatry, and his writings became a 
kind of intellectual straight jacket inhibiting further inquiry, 
rather than a lamp to light the way. Aristotle, who liked to ob- 
serve and think for himself, would doubtless have disapproved of 
the blind adulation that later generations gave to his writings. 

Some of Aristotle’s ideas seem extremely reactionary by to- 
day’s standards. For example, he supported slavery as being in 
accord with natural law, and he believed in the natural inferior- 
ity of women. (Both of these ideas, of course, reflected the 
prevailing views of his time.) However, many of Aristotle’s views 
are strikingly modern, e.g., “Poverty is the parent of revolution 
and crime,” and “All who have meditated on the art of governing 
mankind are convinced that the fate of empires depends on the 
education of youth.” (There was, of course, no public education 
at the time that Aristotle lived.) 

In recent centuries, Aristotle's influence and reputation 
have declined considerably. Nevertheless, I feel that his influence 
was so pervasive, and lasted for so long, that I rather regret that I 
cannot place him higher on this list. His present ranking is 
primarily a consequence of the enormous importance of each of 
the twelve persons preceding him. 

ea u m Tmt aim ion POU GRE S 

lial Se RO age PT AO, | pupil, Alexander. 

14 EUCLID fl. c. 300 B.c. 

Few persons on this list have earned such enduring fame as the 
great Greek geometer, Euclid. Although in their lifetimes such 
figures as Napoleon, Alexander the Great, and Martin Luther were 
much better known than Euclid, in the long run his fame will 
probably well outlast theirs. 

Despite his reknown, almost none of the details of Euclid’s 
life are known. We do know that he was active as a teacher in 
Alexandria, Egypt, in about 300 B.c. However, his dates of birth 
and death are uncertain, and we do not even know on which conti- 
nent he was born, much less in which city. Although he wrote 

76 THE 100 

several other books, some of which survive, his place in history 
rests primarily upon his great textbook of geometry, the Elements. 

The importance of the Elements does not lie in any one of the 
individual theorems it demonstrates. Almost all of the theorems in 
the book had been known before Euclid, and a good many of the 
proofs as well. Euclid’s great contribution was his arrangement of 
the material, and his formulation of the overall plan of the book. 
This involved, in the first place, the selection of a suitable set of 
axioms and postulates. (This was a very difficult task, requiring 
extraordinary judgment and great insight.) He then carefully ar- 
ranged the theorems so that each followed logically from its prede- 
cessors. Where necessary, he supplied missing steps and developed 
missing proofs. It is worth noting that the Elements, while primar- 
ily a development of plane and solid geometry, also contains large 
sections on algebra and number theory. 

The Elements has been used as a textbook for more than two 
thousand years, and is unquestionably the most successful textbook 
ever written. So superbly did Euclid do his work, that with the 
appearance of his book all prior geometry textbooks were super- 
seded and promptly forgotten. Originally written in Greek, the 
Elements has since been translated into many other languages. The 
first printed edition appeared as early as 1482, only about thirty 
years after Gutenberg’s invention of printing. Since then, over a 
thousand different editions have been published. 

As an agent for training men’s minds in the nature of logical 
reasoning, the Elements has been far more influential than any of 
Aristotle's treatises on logic. It is the outstanding example of a 
complete deductive structure, and as such has fascinated thinkers 
ever since its creation. 

It is fair to say that Euclid’s book was a major factor in the 
rise of modern science. Science is more than just a collection of 
accurate observations and shrewd generalizations. The great 
achievements of modern science come from a combination of em- 
piricism and experimentation on the one hand, and careful analysis 
and deductive reasoning on the other. 

We are not certain just why science arose in Europe rather 
than in China or Japan, but it is safe to say that it was not merely 

Euclid 77 

by chance. Certainly, the roles played by such brilliant figures 
as Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, and Kepler were of tremendous 
importance. However, it seems likely that there were underlying 
reasons why men such as these flourished in Europe, rather than 
the Orient. Perhaps the most obvious historical factor predisposing 
western Europe to science was Greek rationalism, along with the 
mathematical knowledge that the Greeks had bequeathed. 

To the Europeans, the idea that there were a few basic physi- 
cal principles from which everything else could be deduced 
seemed quite natural, for they had the example of Euclid before 
them. (In general, Europeans did not consider the geometry of 
Euclid to be merely an abstract system: they believed that Euclid’s 
postulates—and therefore his theorems—were actually true of the 
real world.) 

All of the men just mentioned were steeped in the Euclidean 
tradition. Indeed, each of them had carefully studied the Elements, 
and it formed the basis of their mathematical knowledge. The in- 
fluence of Euclid on Isaac Newton is particularly obvious, since 
Newton wrote his great book, the Principia, in a “geometric” form, 
similar to that of the Elements. Since then, many other Western 
scientists have emulated Euclid, by showing how their conclusions 
could all be logically derived from a small number of initial assump- 
tions; so have many mathematicans, such as Bertrand Russell and 
Alfred North Whitehead; and philosophers, such as Spinoza. 

The contrast with China is particularly striking. For centuries, 
its technology was more advanced than that of Europe. But there 
was never any Chinese mathematician corresponding to Euclid, 
and consequently the Chinese never possessed the theoretical 
structure of mathematics that the West did. (The Chinese had a 
good knowledge of practical geometry, but their geometric knowl- 
edge was never reformulated into a deductive scheme.) Euclid was 
not translated into Chinese until about 1600 A.p., and it took a few 
centuries for his conception of a deductive scheme of geometry to 
become widely known among educated Chinese. Until that hap- 
pened, the Chinese did no serious work in science. 

Similar statements might be made about Japan, where Eu- 
clid’s work was unknown until the eighteenth century, and even 

78 THE 100 

then not appreciated for a good many years. Though there are 
many excellent scientists in Japan today, there were none there 
before Euclid became known. One cannot help wondering whether 
the Europeans would have been able to create modern science had 
Euclid not prepared the way! 

Today, mathematicians have come to understand that Euclid’s 
geometry is not the only self-consistent geometrical system which 
can be devised; and during the past 150 years many non-Euclidean 
geometries have been constructed. Indeed, since Einstein's gen- 
eral theory of relativity has been accepted, scientists have realized 
that Euclidean geometry does not always hold true in the real 
universe. In the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, for exam- 
ple, where the gravitational fields are extremely intense, Euclid’s 
geometry does not give an accurate picture of the world. However, 
these cases are rather special; in most cases Euclid’s geometry 
provides a very close approximation of reality. 

These recent advances in human knowledge, in any case, do 
not detract from Euclid’s intellectual achievement. Nor do they 
detract from his historical importance in the development of math- 
ematics and in the establishment of the logical framework neces- 
sary for the growth of modern science. 

A H D 

6 & Pee 

Diagram from a Euclidian geometric theorem. 



fl. 13th c. Bec. 

Probably no person in history has been so widely admired as the 
great Hebrew prophet Moses. Furthermore, his fame, as well as 
the number of people who respect him, has steadily grown 
throughout the ages. It is most likely that Moses flourished in the 
thirteenth century B.c., since Ramses IJ, generally thought to be 
the pharaoh of the Exodus story, died in 1237 8.c. During Moses’ 
lifetime, as the Book of Exodus makes clear, there were a fair 
number of Hebrews who disagreed with his policies. Within five 
centuries, however, Moses was revered by all the Jewish people. 
By 500 a.p., his fame and reputation had spread, along with 
Christianity, throughout much of Europe. A century later, 
Muhammad recognized Moses as a true prophet, and with the 
spread of Islam, Moses became an admired figure throughout the 
Moslem world (even in Egypt). Today, some thirty-two centuries 
after he lived, Moses is honored by Jews, Christians, and 

80 THE 100 

Moslems alike, and is even respected by many agnostics. Thanks 
to modern communications, he is probably even better known 
today than he was in the past. 

Despite his renown, reliable information concerning Moses’ 
life is scarce. There has even been speculation (not accepted by 
most scholars) that Moses was an Egyptian, since his name is of 
Egyptian, rather than Hebrew, origin. (It means “child” or 
“son,” and occurs as part of the name of several famous 
pharaohs.) The Old Testament stories concerning Moses can 
hardly be accepted at face value, since they involve a large 
number of miracles. The stories of the burning bush, or of Moses 
turning his staff into a serpent, for example, are basically 
miraculous in nature; and it does tax one’s credulity, perhaps, to 
believe that Moses, who was already eighty years old at the time 
of the Exodus, still managed to lead the Hebrews in a forty-year 
trip through the desert. Surely, we would like to know exactly 
what the real Moses accomplished before his story was buried in 
an avalanche of legends. 

Many persons have tried to give natural interpretations to 
the Biblical stories of the ten plagues and the crossing of the Red 
Sea. However, most of the favorite Old Testament stories con- 
cerning Moses are legendary, with analogues in other 
mythologies. The story of Moses and the bulrushes, for instance, 
is strikingly similar to a Babylonian story concerning Sargon of 
Akkad, a great king who reigned about 2360-2305 B.c. 

In general, there are three major achievements attributed to 
Moses, First, he is credited with being the political figure who 
led the Hebrews in the Exodus from Egypt. On this point, at 
least, it is clear that he deserves credit. Second, he is the reputed 
author of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, 
Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), which are often refer- 
red to as the “Five Books of Moses,” and which constitute the 
Jewish Torah. These books include the Mosaic Code, the set of 
laws which in principle governed the conduct of the Jews in 
biblical times, and which include the Ten Commandments. In 
view of the enormous influence which the Torah as a whole and 

Moses 81 

the Ten Commandments in particular have had, their author 
would surely deserve to be considered a man of great and endur- 
ing influence. However, most biblical scholars agree that Moses 
was not the sole author of these books. The books were apparent- 
ly written by several authors, and the great bulk of the material 
was not put into writing until considerably after Moses’ death. It 
is possible that Moses played some role in codifying existing 
Hebrew customs, or even in originating Hebrew laws, but there 
is really no way of judging how great his role was. 

Third, many people consider Moses to be the founder of 
Jewish monotheism. In one sense, there is no basis at all for such 
a claim. Our only source of information concerning Moses is the 
Old Testament; and the Old Testament explicitly and unam- 
biguously credits Abraham with being the founder of mono- 
theism. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that Jewish monotheism 
would have died out had it not been for Moses, and he unques- 
tionably played the crucial role in its preservation and transmis- 
sion. In this, of course, lies his greatest importance, since Chris- 
tianity and Islam, the two largest religions in the world, are both 
derived from Jewish monotheism. The idea of one true God, 
which Moses believed in so passionately, has eventually spread 
through a large part of the world. 

“Moses with the Ten Commandments,” 
by Guido Reni. 




Charles Darwin, the originator of the theory of organic evolution 
by means of natural selection, was born in Shrewsbury, Eng- 
land, on February 12, 1809 (on exactly the same day that Abra- 
ham Lincoln was born). At sixteen, he entered the University of 
Edinburgh to study medicine; however, he found both medicine 
and anatomy dull subjects, and after a while transferred to Cam- 
bridge to study for the ministry. At Cambridge, he found such 
activities as riding and shooting far more agreeable than his 
studies. Nevertheless, he managed to impress one of his professors 
sufficiently to be recommended for the position of naturalist on 
the exploratory voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle. His father at first 
objected to Charles’s accepting the appointment, feeling that 

Charles Darwin 83 

such a trip would simply be a further excuse for the young man to 
delay settling down to serious work. Fortunately, the elder Dar- 
win was persuaded to give his consent to the trip, for this was to 
prove one of the most rewarding ocean voyages in the history of 
Western science. 

Darwin set sail on the Beagle in 1831, at the age of twenty- 
two. In the course of the next five years, the Beagle sailed around 
the world, skirting the coasts of South America at a leisurely 
pace, exploring the lonely Galapagos Islands, and visiting other 
islands of the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the South Atlantic. 
During the long course of the voyage, Darwin saw many natural 
wonders, visited primitive tribes, discovered large numbers of 
fossils, and observed an enormous number of plant and animal 
species. Furthermore, he took voluminous notes on everything 
that he observed. These notes provided the basis for almost all his 
later work; from them, he derived many of his principal ideas, as 
well as the immense wealth of evidence by which he made his 
theories prevail. 

Darwin returned home in 1836, and over the next twenty 
years he published a series of books which established his reputa- 
tion as one of the leading biologists in England. As early as 1837, 
Darwin became convinced that animal and plant species were 
not fixed, but had evolved over the course of geologic history. At 
that time, however, he had no idea what might be the cause of 
such evolution. In 1838, however, he read An Essay on the Prin- 
ciple of Population by Thomas Malthus, and that provided him 
with the vital clue to his notion of natural selection through com- 
petition for survival. But even after Darwin had formulated the 
principle of natural selection, he did not rush to present his ideas 
in print. He realized that his theory was bound to arouse a good 
deal of opposition, and he therefore spent a long time carefully 
assembling the evidence and marshalling the arguments in favor 
of his hypothesis. 

He wrote an outline of his theory as early as 1842, and by 
1844 was working on a full-length book. However, in June 1858, 
when Darwin was still adding to and revising his great work, he 

84 THE 100 

received a manuscript from Alfred Russel Wallace (a British 
naturalist who was at that time in the East Indies) outlining 
Wallace’s own theory of evolution. In every essential point, 
Wallace’s theory was the same as Darwin’s! Wallace had devel- 
oped his theory completely independently and had sent his 
manuscript to Darwin in order to obtain the opinion and com- 
ments of an established scientist before publishing it. It was an 
embarrassing situation, which could easily have developed into 
an unpleasant battle over priority. Instead, Wallace’s paper and 
an outline of Darwin’s book were presented as a joint paper 
before a scientific body the following month. 

Oddly enough, that presentation did not arouse a sea deal 
of attention. However, Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, 
published the following year, created a furor. In fact, it is prob- 
able that no scientific book ever published has been so widely and 
vigorously discussed, by scientist and layman alike, as On The 
Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preserva- 
tion of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. The arguments 
were still going strong in 1871, when Darwin published The Des- 
cent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. That book, which 
propounded the idea that man was descended from ape-like 
creatures, added still more fuel to the raging controversy. 

Darwin himself took no part in the public debates on his 
theories. For one thing, he had been in bad health ever since the 
voyage of the Beagle (probably the result of a recurrent ailment, 
Chagas’ disease, which he had contracted from insect bites in 
South America). Furthermore, the partisans of evolution pos- 
sessed, in Thomas H. Huxley, a skilled debater and a vigorous 
defender of Darwin’s theories. The large majority of scientists 
had accepted the basic correctness of Darwin’s theories by the 
time he died, in 1882. 

Darwin was not the originator of the idea of the evolution of 
species; quite a few persons had postulated that theory before 
him, including the French naturalist, Jean Lamarck, and 
Charles’s own grandfather, Erasmus Darwin. But these hypo- 
theses had never gained the acceptance of the scientific world, 

Charles Darwin 85 

because their proponents were unable to give convincing ex- 
planations of the means by which evolution occurred. Darwin’s 
great contribution was that he was able to present not only a 
mechanism—natural selection— by which evolution could occur, 
but also a large quantity of convincing evidence to support his 

It is worth noting that Darwin’s theory was formulated 
without any reliance on genetic theory—or indeed, any know- 
ledge of it. In Darwin’s day, no one knew anything about the 
way in which particular characteristics were passed on from one 
generation to the next. Although Gregor Mendel was working 
out the laws of heredity during the same years that Darwin was 
writing and publishing his epoch-making books, Mendel’s 
work—which supplements Darwin’s so perfectly—was almost 
totally ignored until the year 1900, by which time Darwin’s 
theories were already well established. Thus, our modern under- 
standing of evolution, which combines the laws of genetic in- 
heritance with natural selection, is more complete than the 
theory proposed by Darwin. 

Darwin’s influence on human thought has been immense. 
In the purely scientific sense, of course, he revolutionized the en- 
tire subject of biology. Natural selection is a very broad princi- 
ple indeed, and attempts have been made to apply it to many 
other fields, such as anthropology, sociology, political science, 
and economics. 

Even more important, perhaps, than their scientific or 
sociological import, has been the impact of Darwin’s theories 
upon religious thought. In Darwin’s day, and for many years 
thereafter, many devout Christians believed that the acceptance 
of Darwin’s theories would undermine belief in religion. Their 
fears were perhaps justified, although it is obvious that many 
other factors have played a role in the general decline of religious 
sentiment. (Darwin himself became an agnostic.) 

Even on a secular level, Darwin’s theory has caused a great 
change in the way that human beings think about their world. 
The human race as a whole no longer seems to occupy the central 

86 THE 100 

position in the natural scheme of things that it once did. We now 
have to regard ourselves as one species among many, and we 
recognize the possibility that we may one day be superseded. As a 
result of Darwin’s work, the viewpoint of Heraclitus, that “there 
is nothing permanent except change” has gained much wider ac- 
ceptance. The success of the theory of evolution as a general ex- 
planation of the origin of man has greatly strengthened belief in 
the ability of science to provide answers to all physical questions 
(although not, alas, to all human problems). The Darwinian 
terms “the struggle for existence” and “the survival of the fittest” 
have passed into our vocabulary. 

It is obvious that Darwin’s theories would have been ex- 
pounded even had he never lived. In fact, in view of Wallace’s 
work, this is perhaps more obviously true of Darwin than of any 
other person on this list. Still, it was Darwin’s writings which 
revolutionized biology and anthropology, and which have so 
altered our view of man’s place in the world. . 


Beagle Channel was named after Darwin's ship “The Beagle.’ 

= = 3 one Mees = 




259 B.c.-210 Bic. 

The great Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti, who ruled from 
238-210 B.c, united China by force of arms and instituted a set of 
sweeping reforms. Those reforms have been a major factor in the 
cultural unity that China has maintained ever since. 

Shih Huang Ti (also known as Ch’in Shih Huang Ti) was 
born in 259 s.c. and died in 210 3s.c. To understand his im- 
portance, it is necessary to have some knowledge of the historical 
background of his times. He was born in the final years of the 
Chou dynasty, which had been founded about 1100 B.c. Cen- 
turies before his time, however, the Chou monarchs had ceased 


88 THE 100 

to be effective rulers, and China had become divided into a large 
number of feudal states. 

The various feudal lords were constantly at war with one 
another, and gradually, several of the smaller rulers were 
eliminated. One of the most powerful of the warring states was 
Chiin, in the western portion of the country. The Ch’in rulers 
had adopted the ideas of the Legalist school of Chinese 
philosophers as the basis of state policy. Confucius had suggested 
that men should be governed primarily by the moral example of 
a good ruler; but according to the Legalist philosophy, most men 
were not good enough to be ruled in that way and could only be 
controlled by a strict set of laws firmly and impartially enforced. 
Laws were made by the ruler and could be changed at his 
pleasure to further state policy. 

Possibly because of their adoption of Legalist ideas, possibly 
because of their geographical position, or possibly because of the 
capability of the Ch’in rulers, that state had already become the 
most powerful of the Chinese states at the time that Cheng (the 
future Shih Huang Ti) was born. Nominally, Cheng ascended 
the throne in 246 B.c., at the age of thirteen, but, in fact, a 
regent governed until Cheng came of age in 238 B.c. The new 
monarch chose able generals and vigorously prosecuted the wars 
against the remaining feudal states. The last of these were con- 
quered in 221] B.c., and he could now have declared himself 
Wang (king) of all China. To emphasize, however, the complete 
break he was making with the past, he chose a new title, and 
called himself Shih Huang Ti, which means “the first emperor.” 

Shih Huang Ti immediately began to institute a large 
number of important reforms. Determined to avoid the disunity 
which had destroyed the Chou monarchy, he decided to abolish 
the entire feudal system of government. The territory he ruled 
was re-apportioned into thirty-six provinces, each with a civilian 
governor appointed by the emperor. Shih Huang Ti decreed that 
the office of provincial governor was no longer to be hereditary. 
Indeed, the practice soon developed-of shifting governors from 
one province to another after a few years, to avoid the possibility 

Shih Huang Ti 89 

of an amibitous governor attaining a strong power base of his 
own. Each province also had its own military leader, appointed 
by the emperor and removable at his pleasure, and a third, 
centrally-appointed official to maintain the balance between the 
civil and military governors. An extensive system of good roads 
was constructed, connecting the capital city with the provinces, 
and insuring that the central army could be quickly dispatched to 
any province besieged by a local revolt. Shih Huang Ti also 
decreed that the surviving members of the old aristocracy would 
have to move to Hsien Yang, his own capital, where he could 
keep an eye on them, 

But Shih Huang Ti was not content with merely political 
and military unity in China; he sought commercial unity as well. 
He instituted a unified set of weights and measures throughout 
the country; standardized the coinage, various implements, and 
the axle lengths of wagons; and supervised the construction of 
roads and canals. He also established a system of unified laws 
throughout China and standardized the written language. 

The emperor’s most famous (or perhaps infamous) act was 
the decree of 213 B.c, in which he ordered the burning of all the 
books in China. Exceptions were made for writings on such 
technical topics as agriculture and medicine, the _ historical 
records of the state of Ch’in, and the philosophical works of the 
Legalist writers. But the writings of all the other schools of 
philosophy—including the doctrines of Confucius—were to be 
destroyed. By this Draconian decree, probably the first example 
of large-scale censorship in all of history, Shih Huang Ti hoped to 
destroy the influence of rival philosophies, and particularly that 
of the Confucian school. However, he did order that copies of the 
prohibited books were to be kept in the imperial library, in the 
capital city. 

Shih Huang Ti’s foreign policy was equally vigorous. He 
made extensive conquests in the southern part of the country, 
and the regions that he annexed were eventually absorbed into 
China. In the North and West also, his armies were successful, 
but he could not permanently conquer the peoples living there. 

90 THE 100 

However, to prevent them from making raids into China, Shih 
Huang Ti connected the various local walls already existing on 
China’s northern frontiers into one gigantic wall, The Great 
Wall of China, which has endured to the present day. These con- 
struction projects, together with the series of foreign wars, 
necessitated high taxes, which made the emperor unpopular. 
Since rebellion against his iron rule was impossible, attempts 
were made to assassinate him. None of these attempts succeeded, 
however, and Shih Huang Ti died a natural death in the year 
210 B.c. 

The emperor was succeeded by his second son, who took the 
title Erh Shih Huang Ti. But Erh Shih Huang Ti lacked his 
father’s ability, and revolts soon broke out. Within four years he 
was killed; the palace and the imperial library were burned; and 
the Ch’in dynasty was totally destroyed. 

But the work that Shih Huang Ti had accomplished was not 
to be undone. The Chinese were glad that his tyrannical rule was 
ended, but few of them wanted to return to the anarchy of the 
preceding era. The next dynasty (the Han dynasty) continued the 
basic administrative system set up by Ch’in Shih Huang Ti. In- 
deed, for twenty-one centuries the Chinese Empire continued to 
be organized along the lines he had established. Although the 
harsh system of laws of the Ch’in were soon moderated by the 
Han emperors, and although the whole Legalist philosophy fell 
into disfavor and Confucianism became the official state 
philosophy, the cultural and political unification which Shih 
Huang Ti had created was not reversed. 

The critical importance of Shih Huang Ti for China and 
for the world as a whole should now be apparent. Westerners 
have always been awed at the enormous size of China; 
however, throughout most of history China has not really been 
much more populous than Europe. The difference is that 
Europe has always been divided into many small states, while 
China has been united into a single large state. This difference 
seems to have resulted from political and social factors rather 
than geography: internal barriers, such as mountain ranges, 

Shih Huang Ti 91 

are just as prominent in China as they are in Europe. Of 
course, the unity of China cannot be ascribed to the work of 
Shih Huang Ti alone. Various other persons—for example, Sui 
Wen Ti—have also played important roles, but there seems no 
doubt of Shih Huang Ti’s central importance. 

No discussion of Shih Huang Ti would be complete 
without mention of his brilliant and celebrated chief minister, 
Li Ssu. In fact, so important was the influence of Li Sst on the 
emperor’s policies, that it is difficult to know how to divide the 
credit between them for the great changes instituted. Rather 
than attempt that, I have assigned all the credit for their joint 
achievement to Shih Huang Ti. (After all, although Li Ssu of- 
fered advice, it was the emperor who had the final say.) 

Shih Huang Ti, partly because of his burning of the books, 
has been vilified by most later Confucian writers. They de- 
nounce him as a tyrant, superstitious, malevolent, illegitimate- 
ly born, and of mediocre ability. The Chinese Communists on 
the other hand, generally praise him as a progressive thinker. 
Western writers have occasionally compared Shih Huang Ti to 
Napoleon; however, it seems far more appropriate to compare 
him to Augustus Caesar, the founder of the Roman Empire. 
The empires that they established were of more or less the 
same size and population. However, the Roman Empire en- 
dured for a far shorter period, and the territory ruled by 
Augustus did not in the long run retain its unity, whereas the 
territory governed by Shih nen Ti did, making him the more 
influential of the two. 




63 B.c.-l 4 A.D. 

Augustus Caesar, the founder of the Roman Empire, is one of the 
great pivotal figures in history. He ended the civil wars that had 
disrupted the Roman Republic during the first century B.c., and 
he reorganized the Roman government so that internal peace and 
prosperity were maintained for two centuries. 

Gaius Octavius (better known as Octavian; he did not 
receive the title “Augustus” until he was thirty-five years old) 
was born in 63 8.c. He was the grandnephew of Julius Caesar, 
who was the leading political figure of Rome during Octavian’s 
youth. Julius Caesar, who had no legitimate sons of his own, liked 
the youth, and helped prepare him for a political career. However, 

Augustus Caesar 93 

when Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.c., Octavian was still only an 
eighteen-year-old student. 

The death of Caesar set off a long and bitter struggle for 
power between various Roman military and political figures. At 
first, his rivals, who were all men of long experience in the rough 
arena of Roman politics, did not consider the youthful Octavian 
a serious threat. Indeed, the young man’s only visible asset was 
that Julius Caesar had adopted him as his son. By making skillful 
use of this advantage, Octavian managed to win the support of 
some of Caesar’s legions. Many of Caesar’s troops, however, 
chose to support Mark Antony, who had been one of Caesar’s 
closest associates. A series of battles over the next few years 
eliminated all the other contestants for power; by 36 8.c., Rome, 
and the many territories she had already conquered, were divid- 
ed between Mark Antony, who controlled the eastern portion, 
and Octavian, who controlled the West. For a few years, there 
was an uneasy truce between them. During that time, Antony 
seems to have paid too much attention to his romance with 
Cleopatra, while Octavian steadily improved his position. War 
broke out between the two men in 32 B.c., and the issue was 
decided by the great naval battle at Actium (31 8.c.), which was 
won by Octavian’s forces. The following year, the war ended 
with the complete triumph of Octavian, and Antony and 
Cleopatra both committed suicide. 

Octavian had now achieved the same position of power that 
Julius Caesar had attained fifteen years earlier. Caesar had been 
assassinated, because it had been obvious that he intended to end 
republican government in Rome and set himself up as a 
monarch, But by 30 B.c., after many years of civil war and the 
obvious failure of republican government in Rome, most Romans 
were willing to accept a benevolent despot, as long as the 
pretense of democratic rule was continued. 

Octavian, though he had been ruthless during his fight to 
the top, was surprisingly conciliatory once he was established in 
power. In 27 3.c., to soothe senatorial feelings, he announced 
that he was restoring the Republic, and he offered to resign all 



i a 



Piles | 

lius Caesar, 44 B.C. 
| fl Territory added during reign of Augustus Caesar EB 
* Battles 

Es Roman territory at the death of Ju 


The Roman Empire 
at the death 
of Augustus. 


96 THE 100 

his government posts. In fact, however, he retained his position 
as head of the provinces of Spain, Gaul, and Syria. Since the ma- 
jority of Roman troops were in these three provinces, the actual 
power was securely in his hands. The Senate voted him the 
honorific title of Augustus, but he never assumed the title of 
king. In theory, Rome was still a republic, and Augustus was no 
more than princeps (first citizen). In actual practice, the grateful 
and docile Senate appointed Augustus to whatever positions he 
chose, and for the remainder of his life he was effectively a dic- 
tator. By the time he died, in 14 a.p., Rome had completed the 
transition from republic to monarchy, and his adopted son suc- 
ceeded him without difficulty. 

Augustus stands out as perhaps the best example in history 
of a capable, benevolent despot. He was a true statesman, whose 
conciliatory policies did much to heal the deep divisions resulting 
from the Roman civil wars. | 

Augustus ruled Rome for over forty years, and his policies 
influenced the Empire for many years to come. Under him, 
Roman armies completed the conquest of Spain, Switzerland, 
Galatia (in Asia Minor), and a large portion of the Balkans. By 
the end of his rule, the northern boundary of the Empire was not 
much different from the Rhine-Danube line which was to be the 
northern border for most of the next few centuries. 

Augustus was an extraordinarily able administrator and 
played a major role in building up a capable civil service. He 
revised the tax structure and financial system of the Roman state; 
he reorganized the Roman army; and he established a permanent 
navy. He also organized a personal bodyguard, the Praetorian 
Guard, which in future centuries was to play a great role in selec- 
ting and deposing emperors. 

Under Augustus, an extensive network of excellent roads 
was constructed throughout the Roman Empire; many public 
buildings were erected in Rome itself; and the city was greatly 
beautified. Temples were constructed, and Augustus encouraged 
observance of and loyalty to the old Roman religion. Laws were 
passed encouraging marriage and the raising of children. 

Augustus Caesar 97 

From 30 8.c. on, Rome had internal peace under Augustus. 
The natural result was a greatly increased prosperity. This, in 
turn, led to a great flourishing of the arts, and the Augustan Age 
was the Golden Age of Roman literature. Rome’s greatest poet, 
Virgil, lived during this period, as did many other writers, 
including Horace and Livy. Ovid incurred the displeasure of 
Augustus, and was banished from Rome. 

Augustus had no sons, and a nephew and two grandsons 
died before him; he therefore adopted his stepson, Tiberius, and 
designated him his successor. But the dynasty (which later in- 
cluded the infamous rulers Caligula and Nero) soon became ex- 
tinct. Nevertheless, the period of internal peace that commenced 
with Augustus, the so-called Pax Romana, was to endure for 
some two hundred years. During this extended period of peace 
and prosperity, Roman culture was suffused deeply into the ter- 
ritories that Augustus and other Roman leaders had conquered. 

The Roman Empire is the most celebrated empire of anti- 
quity, and rightly so. For Rome was both the culmination of an- 
cient civilization and the principal conduit by which the ideas 
and cultural achievements of the peoples of the ancient world 
(Egyptians, Babylonians, Jews, Greeks, and others) have been 
transmitted to western Europe. 

It is interesting to compare Augustus with his granduncle, 
Julius Caesar. Despite Augustus’s good looks, - intelligence, 
strength of character, and military successes, he lacked his 
predecessor’s charisma. Julius excited the imagination of his con- 
temporaries far more than August did, and he has remained 
more famous ever since. In their actual influence upon history, 
however, Augustus was by far the more important of the two. 

It is also interesting to compare Augustus with Alexander 
the Great. Both started their careers when quite young. But 
Augustus had to overcome much tougher competition in order to 
reach the top. His military ability was not as exceptional as Alex- 
ander’s, but it was certainly impressive, and his conquests were 
to prove much more enduring. That, in fact, is the greatest dif- 
ference between the two men. Augustus carefully built for the 

98 THE 100 

future, and as a result, his long-term influence on human history 
has been considerably larger. 

Augustus might also be compared with George Washington. 
Both of them played important (and somewhat analogous) roles in 
world history; but in view of the length of Augustus’s rule, the 
success of his policies, and the importance of the Roman Empire 
in world history, I believe that Augustus should be ranked the 
higher of the two. 

Statue of Augustus Caesar at the Vatican. 



The great Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (Polish name: 
Mikolaj Kopernik), was born in 1473, in the city of Torun, on the 
Vistula River, in Poland. He came from a well-to-do family. Asa 
young man, Copernicus studied at the University of Cracow, 
where he became interested in astronomy. In his mid-twenties he 
went to Italy, where he studied law and medicine at the Univer- 
sities of Bologna and Padua, and later received a doctorate in 
canon law from the University of Ferrara. Copernicus spent most 
of his adult life on the staff of the cathedral at Frauenburg 
(Polish: Frombork), where he was a canon. Copernicus was 
never a professional astronomer, and the great work which has 
made him famous was accomplished in his spare time. 


100 THE 100 

During his stay in Italy, Copernicus had become acquainted 
with the idea of the Greek philosopher, Aristarchus of Samos 
(third century B.c.), that the earth and the other planets revolved 
about the sun. Copernicus became convinced of the correctness 
of this heliocentric hypothesis, and when he was about forty he 
began to circulate among his friends a short, handwritten manu- 
script setting forth in preliminary form his own ideas on the sub- 
ject. Copernicus spent many years taking the observations and 
making the calculations that were necessary for the composition 
of his great book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the 
Revolution of the Celestial Spheres), in which he describes his 
theory in detail, and sets forth the evidence for it. 

In 1533, when he was sixty years old, Copernicus delivered 
a series of lectures in Rome, in which he presented the principal 
points of his theory, without incurring papal disapproval. However, 
it was not until he was in his late sixties that Copernicus finally 
decided to have his book published; and it was not until the day 
he died, May 24, 1543, that he received the first copy of his book 
from the printer. 

In his book, Copernicus correctly stated that the earth 
rotates on its axis; that the moon revolves around the earth: and 
that the earth and the other planets all revolve about the sun. 
However, like his predecessors, he badly underestimated the 
scale of the solar system. Also, he was wrong in believing that the 
orbits consist of circles or of epicycles. Thus, his theory was not 
only complicated mathematically, but inexact as well. Never- 
theless, his book promptly aroused great interest. It also 
motivated other astronomers, most notably the great Danish 
astronomer, Tycho Brahe, to make more accurate observations 
of planetary motions. It was from the observational data ac- 
cumulated by Tycho that Johannes Kepler was finally able to 
deduce the correct laws of planetary motion. 

Though Aristarchus of Samos had propounded the heliocen- 
tric hypothesis more than seventeen centuries before Copernicus, 
it is appropriate that Copernicus has received the bulk of the 
credit. Aristarchus had made an inspired guess, but had never 

++ Fi 
; ay 

~s_ Saturn 

>a. dupiter \ 

e Mars — 

The Copernican system of the universe. 

presented his theory in sufficient detail to make it scientifically 
useful. When Copernicus worked out the mathematics of the 
hypothesis in detail, he transformed it into a useful scientific 
theory—one that could be used for prediction, that could be 



102 THE 100 

checked against astronomical observations, and that could be 
meaningfully compared with the older theory that the earth was 
the center of the universe. 

It is clear that the Copernican theory has revolutionized our 
conception of the universe, and has led to major changes in our 
whole philosophical outlook. But in evaluating the importance of 
Copernicus, it should be remembered that astronomy does not 
have the great range of practical applications that physics, 
chemistry, and biology do. In principle, one could construct such 
devices as a television set, an automobile, or a modern chemical 
factory without the slightest knowledge or application of Coper- 
nicus’s theories. (One could not do so without applying the ideas 
of Faraday, Maxwell, Lavoisier, and Newton.) 

But to consider only the direct influence on Copernicus on 
technology would be to completely miss his true significance. 
Copernicus’s book was the indispensable prologue to the work of 
both Galileo and Kepler. They in turn were the major 
predecessors of Newton, and it was their discoveries which 
enabled Newton to formulate his laws of motion and gravitation. 
Historically, the publication of De revolutionibus orbium 
coelestium was the starting point of modern astronomy—and, more 
importantly, the starting point of modern science. 





The great French scientist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was the 
most important figure in the development of chemistry. At the 
time of his birth, in Paris, in 1743, the science of chemistry lag- 
ged far behind physics, mathematics, and astronomy. Large 
numbers of individual facts had been discovered by chemists, but 
there was no adequate theoretical framework in which to fit 
these isolated bits of information. At that time, it was incorrectly 
believed that air and water were elementary substances. Worse 
still, there was a complete misunderstanding of the nature of 
fire. It was believed that all combustible materials contained a 
hypothetical substance called “phlogiston,” and that during 
combustion the inflammable substance released its phlogiston in- 
to the air. 

In the interval from 1754 to 1774, talented chemists such as 
Joseph Black, Joseph Priestley, Henry Cavendish, and others had 
isolated such important gases as oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and 


104 THE 100 

carbon dioxide. However, since these men accepted the 
phlogiston theory, they were quite unable to understand the 
nature or significance of the chemical substances they had 
discovered. Oxygen, for example, was referred to as 
dephlogisticated air, i.e., air from which all the phlogiston had 
been removed. (It was known that a sliver of wood burned better 
in oxygen than in ordinary air; presumably, this was because 
dephlogisticated air could more readily absorb phlogiston from 
the burning wood.) Obviously, real progress in chemistry could 
not be made until the fundamentals were correctly understood. 

It was Lavoisier who managed to put the pieces of the puz- 
zle together correctly, and to get chemical theory started on the 
correct path. In the first place, Lavoisier said, the phlogiston 
theory is. completely incorrect: there is no such substance as 
phlogiston. The process of combustion consists of the chemical 
combination of the burning substance with oxygen. In the second 
place, water is not an elementary substance at all but a chemical 
compound of oxygen and hydrogen. Air is not an elementary 
substance either, but consists primarily of a mixture of the two 
gases, oxygen and nitrogen. All of these statements seem quite 
obvious today. However, they were not at all obvious to 
Lavoisier’s predecessors and contemporaries. Even after 
Lavoisier formulated his theories and presented the evidence for 
them, many leading chemists refused to accept his ideas. But 
Lavoisier’s excellent textbook, Elements of Chemistry (1789), so 
clearly presented his hypotheses, and so convincingly marshalled 
the evidence in their behalf, that the younger generation of 
chemists was quickly convinced. 

Having shown that water and air were not chemical 
elements, Lavoisier included in his book a list of those substances 
that he did believe to be elementary. Although his list contains a 
few errors, a modern list of the chemical elements is basically an 
enlarged version of Lavoisier’s table. 

Lavoisier had already (in conjunction with Berthollet, Four- 
croi, and Guyton de Morveau) devised the first well-organized 
system of chemical nomenclature. In Lavoisier’s system (which 

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier 105 

forms the basis of the one used today), the composition of a 
chemical is described by its name. The adoption, for the first 
time, of a uniform system of nomenclature enabled chemists 
throughout the world to clearly communicate their discoveries to 
each other. 

Lavoisier was the first person to clearly state the principle of 
conservation of mass in chemical reactions: A chemical reaction 
might rearrange the elements present in the original substances, 
but no matter is destroyed thereby, and the end products weigh 
the same as the original components. Lavoisier’s insistence on the 
importance of carefully weighing the chemicals involved in a 
reaction helped turn chemistry into an exact science, and 
prepared the way for much of the subsequent progress in 

Lavoisier also made some minor contributions to the study 
of geology, and a major contribution in the field of physiology. 
By careful experiments (working in conjunction with Laplace), 
he was able to show that the physiological process of respiration 
is basically equivalent to a slow combustion. In other words, 
human beings and other animals derive their energy from a slow, 
internal burning of organic material, using the oxygen in the air 
they inhale. That discovery alone— which is perhaps comparable 
in significance to Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the 
blood— might well entitle Lavoisier to a place on this list. Still, 
Lavoisier is primarily important because his formulation of 
chemical theory started the science of chemistry firmly on the 
correct path. He is generally referred to as “the father of 
modern chemistry,” and he richly deserves that title. 

Like quite a few other persons on this list, Lavoisier studied 
law as a young man. Although he received a law degree and was 
admitted to the French bar, Lavoisier never practiced law. He 
did, though, engage in much administrative work and public ser- 
vice. He was active in the French Royal Academy of Sciences. He 
was also a member of the Ferme Générale, an organization in- 
volved in the collection of taxes. As a consequence, after the 
French Revolution in 1789, the Revolutionary government was 

106 THE 100 

very suspicious of him. Eventually, he was arrested, along with 
twenty-seven other members of the Ferme Générale. Revolu- 
tionary justice may not have been too accurate, but it was cer- 
tainly speedy. On a single day (May 8, 1794), all of the twenty- 
eight persons were tried, convicted, and guillotined. Lavoisier 
was survived by his wife, a brilliant woman who had assisted 
him in his researches. 

At the trial, an appeal was made to spare Lavoisier, citing 
his numerous services to his country and to science. The judge re- 
jected the plea with the curt remark that, “The Republic has no 
need of geniuses.”” Somewhat closer to the truth was the remark 
of his colleague, the great mathematician Lagrange: “It took but 
a moment to sever that head, though a hundred years may not 
produce another like it.” 

Lavoisier in his laboratory at the Royal Arsenal. 



c. 280-337 

Constantine the Great was the first Christian emperor of Rome. 
By his adoption of Christianity, and by his various policies 
encouraging its growth, he played a major role in transforming it 
from a persecuted sect into the dominant religion of Europe. 

Constantine was born about 280, in the town of Naissus 
(present day Nis), in what is now Yugoslavia. His father was a 
high-ranking army officer, and Constantine spent his younger 
days in Nicomedia, where the court of the Emperor Diocletian 
was situated. 

Diocletian abdicated in 305, and Constantine’s father, Con- 
stantius, became the ruler of the western half of the Roman Em- 


108 THE 100 

pire. When Constantius died the following year, Constantine 
was proclaimed emperor by his troops. Other generals, however, 
disputed his claim, and a series of civil wars followed. These end- 
ed in 312 when Constantine defeated his remaining rival, Max- 
entius, at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, near Rome. 

Constantine was now the undisputed ruler of the western 
half of the Empire; however, another general, Licinius, ruléd 
the eastern half. In 323, Constantine attacked and defeated 
Licinius also, and from then until his death in 337 was sole ruler 
of the Roman Empire. 

It is uncertain just when Constantine became converted to 
Christianity. The most usual story is that on the eve of the Battle 
of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine saw a fiery cross in the sky, 
together with the words “By this sign shalt thou conquer.” 
Regardless of how or when he was converted, Constantine 
became deeply dedicated to the advancement of Christianity. 
One of his early actions was the Edict of Milan, under which 
Christianity became a legal and tolerated religion. The Edict also 
provided for the return of Church property which had been con- 
fiscated during the preceding period of persecution, and it 
established Sunday as a day of worship. 

The Edict of Milan was not motivated by general feelings of 
religious toleration. On the contrary, Constantine’s reign may be 
said to mark the beginning of the official persecution of the Jews 
that was to persist in Christian Europe for so many centuries. 

Constantine never established Christianity as the official 
state religion. However, by his legislation and other policies, he 
did much to encourage its growth. During his reign it became 
obvious that conversion to Christianity enhanced one’s prospects 
for promotion to a high government position, and his decrees 
gave the Church various useful privileges and immunities. Also, 
construction of several of the world’s most famous church 
buildings—such as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and 
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem—was com- 
menced during his reign. 

Constantine’s role as the first Christian emperor of Rome 

Constantine the Great 109 

would by itself entitle him to a place on this list. However, 
several of his other actions have also had far-reaching conse- 
quences. For one thing, he rebuilt and greatly expanded the old 
city of Byzantium, renamed it Constantinople, and made it his 
capital. Constantinople (which is today called Istanbul) was to 
become one of the great cities of the world; it remained the 
capital of the Eastern Roman Empire until 1453, and for cen- 
turies thereafter was the capital of the Ottoman Empire. 

Constantine also played a significant role in the internal 
history of the Church. To deal with a dispute between the 
followers of Arius and Athanasius (two Christian theologians 
who had advanced conflicting doctrines), Constantine convoked 
the Council of Nicaea (in 325), the first general council of the 
Church. The council, in which Constantine took an active part, 
resolved the dispute by its adoption of the Nicene Creed, which 
became orthodox Church doctrine. 

More important still was some of his civil legislation. Con- 
stantine introduced laws which made certain occupations (e.g., 
butchers, bakers) hereditary. He also issued a decree under 
which coloni (a class of tenant farmers) were forbidden to leave 
their land. In modern terms, this decree converted the coloni into 
serfs, permanently attached to the land. This and similar legisla- 
tion helped to lay the foundations for the entire social structure 
of medieval Europe. 

Constantine chose not to be baptized until he was on his 
deathbed, but it is clear that he had been converted to Chris- 
tianity long before that. It is equally plain that the spiritual con- 
tent of Christianity had eluded him completely. Even by the 
standards of the day, he was ruthless and cruel—and not merely 
to his enemies. For reasons that are unclear, he had his wife and 
his eldest son put to death in 326. 

It might be argued that Constantine’s adoption of Chris- 
tianity did not really change the course of history, but merely 
ratified the inevitable. After all, although the Emperor Diocle- 
tian (who ruled 284-305) had conducted a vigorous persecution 
of Christianity, his attempt to suppress the religion was unsuc- 

110 THE 100 

cessful, for by that time Christianity was far too strong to be 
stamped out by even the fiercest measures. When one considers 
the failure of Diocletian’s efforts to extirpate Christianity, one 
suspects that Christianity might eventually have triumphed even 
without Constantine’s intervention. 

Such speculations are interesting, but inconclusive. It is 
hard to be sure what might have happened without Constantine. 
It is quite plain, though, that with his encouragement, Chris- 
tianity rapidly expanded in both numbers and influence. From 
the creed of a small minority it became, within a century, the 
predominant and established religion of the largest empire on 

Clearly, Constantine was one of the great pivotal figures of 
European history. He has been ranked higher than better known 
figures such as Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Hitler 
becatse-of the enduring influence of his policies. 

osteo _ a 

os (9) 

" 3 i 
2 sa 7 — 

= vo 

il gn Ves) WY a 


( Vga () ie 

Fighting the Lion,” 
from Constantine 
tapestry designed by 
Pietro Da Cortona. 




The Scottish inventor James Watt, the man who is often describ- 
ed as the inventor of the steam engine, was the key figure of the 
Industrial Revolution. 

Actually, Watt was not the first man to build a steam 
engine. Similar devices were described by Hero of Alexandria in 
the lst century. In 1698, Thomas Savery patented a steam engine 
that was used for pumping water, and in 1712 an Englishman, 
Thomas Newcomen, patented a somewhat improved version. 
Still, the Newcomen engine had such a low efficiency that it was 
useful only for pumping water out of coal mines. 

Watt himself became interested in the steam engine in 1764, 
while repairing a model of Newcomen’s device. Watt, although 
he had received only one year’s training as an instrument maker, 
had great inventive talent. The improvements which he made 
upon Newcomen’s invention were so important that it is fair to 
consider Watt the inventor of the first practical steam engine. 

Watt’s first great improvement, which he patented in 1769, 


112 THE 100 

was the addition of a separate condensing chamber. He also in- 
sulated the steam cylinder, and in 1782 he invented the double- 
acting engine. Together with some smaller improvements, these 
innovations resulted in an increase in the efficiency of the steam 
engine by a factor of four or more. In practice, this increase of ef- 
ficiency meant the difference between a clever but not really 
very useful device, and an instrument of enormous industrial 

Watt also invented (in 1781) a set of gears for converting the 
reciprocal motion of the engine into a rotary motion. This device 
greatly increased the number of uses to which steam engines 
could be put. Watt also invented a centrifugal governor (1788), 
by which the speed of the engine could be automatically con- 
trolled; a pressure gauge (1790); a counter; an indicator; and a 
throttle valve, in addition to various other improvements. 

Watt himself did not have a good head for business. 
However, in 1775 he formed a partnership with Matthew 
Boulton, who was an engineer and a very capable businessman. 
Over the next twenty-five years, the firm of Watt and Boulton 
manufactured a large number of steam engines, and both part- 
ners became wealthy men. 

It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the 
steam engine. True, there were many other inventions which 
played a role in the Industrial Revolution. There were 
developments in mining, in metallurgy, and in many sorts of in- 
dustrial machinery. A few of the inventions, such as the fly shut- 
tle (John Kay, 1733) or the spinning jenny (James Hargreaves, 
1764) had even preceded Watt’s work. The majority of the other 
inventions, however, represented small improvements, and no 
one of them alone was vital to the Industrial Revolution. It was 
quite different with the steam engine, which played an absolute- 
ly crucial role, and without which the Industrial Revolution 
would have been vastly different. Previously, although some use 
had been made of windmills and waterwheels, the main source 
of power had always been human muscles. This factor severely 
limited the productive capacity of industry. With the invention 

James Watt 113 

of the steam engine, however, this limitation was removed. 
Large quantities of energy were now available for production, 
which accordingly increased enormously. The oil embargo of 
1973 made us aware of how severely a shortage of energy can 

Watt's double-acting steam engine, 1769. 

hamper an industrial system, and this experience might, in some 
slight degree, give us an idea of the importance to the Industrial 
Revolution of Watt’s inventions. 

Aside from its usefulness as a source of power for factories, 
the steam engine had many other important applications. By 
1783, the Marquis de Jouffroy d’Abbans had successfully used a 
steam engine to power a boat. In 1804, Richard Trevithick built 
the first steam locomotive. Neither of those early models was 

é Ge ma 

114 THE 100 

commercially successful. Within a few decades, however, the 
steamboat and the railroad were to revolutionize both land and 
water transportation. 

The Industrial Revolution occurred at about the same time 
in history as the American and French revolutions. Though it 
might not have seemed obvious at the time, today we can see that 
the Industrial Revolution was destined to have a far greater im- 
pact on the daily lives of human beings than either of those im- 
portant political revolutions. James Watt, accordingly, has been 
one of the most influential persons in history. 

Watt, as a boy, notices the condensation of steam. 


3 | 

igs on 



This is the age of electricity. It is true that our era is sometimes 
called the space age and sometimes called the atomic age; 
however, space travel and atomic weapons, whatever their 
potential importance, have relatively little impact upon our 
everyday lives. But we use electrical devices constantly. In fact, 
it seems safe to say that no technological feature so completely 
permeates the modern world as does the use of electricity. 

Many men have contributed to our mastery of electricity: 


116 THE 100 

Charles Augustine de Coulomb, Count Alessandro Volta, Hans 
Christian Oersted, and André Marie Ampere are among the most 
important. But towering far above the others are two great 
British scientists, Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. 
Though the work of the two men was in part complementary, 
they were in no sense collaborators, and each man’s individual 
achievements entitle him to a high place on this list. 

Michael Faraday was born in 1791, in Newington, England. 
He came from a poor family and was largely self-educated. Ap- 
prenticed to a bookbinder and bookseller at the age of fourteen, 
he used the opportunity to read extensively. When he was twen- 
ty, he attended lectures given by the famous British scientist, Sir 
Humphry Davy, and was fascinated. He wrote to Davy, and 
eventually got a job as his assistant. Within a few years, Faraday 
was making important discoveries of his own. Although he lack- 
ed a good background in mathematics, as an experimental 
physicist he was unsurpassed. , 

Faraday’s first important innovation in electricity was made 
in 1821. Two years earlier, Oersted had found that the needle of 
an ordinary magnetic compass would be deflected if an electric 
current flowed in a nearby wire. This suggested to Faraday that 
if the magnet were to be held fixed, the wire might move instead. 
Working on this hunch, he succeeded in constructing an in- 
genious device, in which a wire would rotate continuously in the 
vicinity of a magnet as long as an electric current flowed through 
the wire. In fact, what Faraday had invented was the first elec- 
tric motor, the first device to use an electric current to make a 
material object move. Primitive as it was, Faraday’s invention 
was the ancestor of all the electric motors in use in the world to- 

This was a tremendous breakthrough. However, its prac- 
tical usefulness was limited, as long as there was no method of 
generating electric currents other than the primitive chemical 
batteries of the day. Faraday was convinced that there must be 
some way of using magnetism to generate electricity, and he kept 
looking for such a method. Now, a stationary magnet will not in- 

Michael Faraday 117 

duce an electric current in a nearby wire. But in 1831, Faraday 
discovered that if a magnet is passed through a closed loop of 
wire, a current will flow in the wire while the magnet is moving. 
This effect is called electromagnetic induction, and the discovery 
of the law governing it (“Faraday’s law”) is generally considered 
to be Faraday’s greatest single achievement. 

This was a monumental discovery, for two reasons. First, 
Faraday’s law is of fundamental importance in our theoretical 
understanding of electromagnetism. Second, electromagnetic in- 
duction can be used to generate continuous electric currents, as 
Faraday himself demonstrated by building the first electric 
dynamo. Although the modern electric generators that supply 
power to our cities and factories are far more sophisticated than 
Faraday's device, they are all based on the same principle of elec- 
tromagnetic induction. 

Faraday also made contributions to the field of chemistry. 
He devised methods for liquefying gases, and he discovered 
various chemical substances, including benzene. Of greater im- 
portance is his work in electrochemistry (the study of chemical 
effects of electric currents). Faraday’s careful experiments 
established the two laws of electrolysis which are named after 
him, and which form the foundations of electrochemistry. He 
also popularized much of the important terminology used in that 
field, such as anode, cathode, electrode, and ion. 

It was Faraday who introduced into physics the important 
idea of magnetic lines of force and electric lines of force. By 
emphasizing not the magnets themselves but rather the field be- 
tween them, he helped prepare the way for many advances in 
modern physics, including Maxwell’s equations. Faraday also 
discovered that if polarized light is passed through a magnetic 
field, its polarization will be altered. This discovery is significant, 
because it was the first indication that there is a relationship be- 
tween light and magnetism. 

Faraday was not only brilliant, but also handsome, and he 
was a very popular lecturer on science. Nevertheless, he was 
modest and singularly indifferent to fame, money, and honors. 

118 THE 100 

He declined. a knighthood, and also declined an offer to become 
president of the British Royal Society. He had a long, happy mar- 
riage, but no children. He died in 1867, near London. 

Faraday lectures at the Royal Institution on December 27, 1855. 


a er 



The great British physicist James Clerk Maxwell is best known 
for his formulation of the set of four equations that express the 
basic laws of electricity and magnetism. 

Those two fields had been investigated extensively for many 
years before Maxwell, and it was well known that they were 
closely related. However, although various laws of electricity 
and magnetism had been discovered that were true in special cir- 
cumstances, before Maxwell there was no overall, unified 
theory. In his set of four short (though highly sophisticated) 


120 THE 100 

equations, Maxwell was able to describe exactly the behavior and 
interaction of the electric and magnetic fields. By so doing, he 
transformed a confusing mass of phenomena into a single, com- 
prehensive theory. Maxwell’s equations have been employed ex- 
tensively for the past century in both theoretical and applied 

The great virtue of Maxwell’s equations is that they are 
general equations, which hold under all circumstances. All the 
previously known laws of electricity and magnetism can be 
derived from Maxwell’s equations, as well as a large number of 
other, previously unknown results. 

The most important of these new results was deduced by 
Maxwell himself. From his equations it can be shown that 
periodic oscillations of the electromagnetic field are possible. 
Such oscillations, called. electromagnetic waves, when once 
started will propagate outward through space. From his equa- 
tions, Maxwell was able to show that the speed of such elec- 
tromagnetic waves would be approximately 300,000 kilometers 
(186,000 miles) per second. Maxwell recognized that this was the 
same as the measured speed of light. From this, he correctly con- 
cluded that light itself consists of electromagnetic waves. 

Thus, Maxwell’s equations are not only the basic laws of 
electricity and magnetism, but are also the basic laws of optics! 
Indeed, all the previously known laws of optics can be deduced 
from his equations, as well as many facts and relationships 
previously undiscovered. 

Visible light is not the only possible type of electromagnetic 
radiation. Maxwell’s equations indicated that other elec- 
tromagnetic waves, differing from visible light in their 
wavelength and frequency, might exist. These theoretical con- 
clusions were later spectacularly confirmed by Heinrich Hertz, 
who was able both to produce and to detect the invisible waves 
whose existence Maxwell had predicted. A few years later, 
Guglielmo Marconi demonstrated that those invisible waves 
could be employed for wireless communication, and radio 
became a reality. Today, we use them for television as well. 

James Clerk Maxwell 12] 

X-rays, gamma rays, infrared rays, and ultraviolet rays are other 
examples of electromagnetic radiation. All can be studied by means 
of Maxwell’s equations. 

V-D= p 



Maxwell’s equations are the basic laws of electricity and 

Although Maxwell’s primary fame rests on his spectacular 
contributions to electromagnetism and optics, he made impor- 
tant contributions to many other fields of science, including 
astronomical theory and thermodynamics (the study of heat). 
One of his special interests was the kinetic theory of gases. Max- 
well realized that not all of the molecules of a gas move at the 
same speed. Some molecules move slowly, some rapidly, some at 


122 THE 100 

extremely high speeds. Maxwell worked out the formula which 
specifies (for any given temperature) what fraction of the 
molecules of a given gas will be moving at any specified velocity. 
This formula, called “the Maxwell distribution,” is one of the 
most widely used of scientific equations, and has important ap- 
plications in many branches of physics. 

Maxwell was born in 1831, in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was 
extremely precocious: when only fifteen years old he presented a 
scientific paper to the Edinburgh Royal Society. He attended the 
University of Edinburgh and graduated from Cambridge 
University. Maxwell spent most of his adult life as a college pro- 
fessor, his last position being at Cambridge. He was married, but 
had no children. Maxwell is generally considered to be the 
greatest theoretical physicist in the whole interval between 
Newton and Einstein. His brilliant career was ended premature- 
ly, in 1879, when he died of cancer, shortly before his forty- 
eighth birthday. | 




Martin Luther, the man whose defiance of the Roman Catholic 
Church inaugurated the Protestant Reformation, was born in 
1483, in the town of Eisleben, in Germany. He received a good 
university education, and for a while (apparently at his father’s 
suggestion) he studied law. However, he did not complete his 
legal education, but instead chose to become an Augustinian 
monk. In 1512, he received the degree of Doctor of Theology 
from the University of Wittenberg, and soon thereafter joined its 

Luther’s grievances against the Church arose gradually. In 
1510, he had taken a trip to Rome, and had been shocked at the 
venality and worldliness of the Roman clergy. But the immediate 
issue that stimulated his protest was the Church practice of sell- 
ing indulgences. (An indulgence was a remission, granted by the 
Church, of the penalties for sin; it might include a reduction of 


124 THE 100 

the time that a sinner would have to spend in purgatory.) On Oc- 
tober 31, 1517, Luther posted on the door of the church at Wit- 
tenberg his celebrated Ninety-five Theses, in which he strongly 
denounced Church venality in general, and the practice of sell- 
ing indulgences in particular. Luther sent a copy of his Ninety- 
five Theses to the Archbishop of Mainz. In addition, the Theses 
were printed, and copies were widely distributed in the area. 

The scope of Luther’s protests against the Church rapidly 
broadened, and he soon came to deny the authority of the Pope, 
and of general Church councils, insisting that he would be guid- 
ed only by the Bible and by plain reason. Not surprisingly, the 
Church did not look kindly upon these views. Luther was sum- 
moned to appear before Church officials, and after various hear- 
ing and orders to recant, he was finally pronounced a heretic and 
an outlaw by the Diet of Worms (1521), and his writings were 

The normal outcome would have been for Luther to be 
burned at the stake. However, his views had found widespread 
support among the German people, and among quite a few of 
the German princes. Though Luther had to go into hiding for a 
period of about a year, his support in Germany was strong 
enough to enable him to avoid any serious criminal penalties. 

Luther was a prolific author, and many of his writings 
proved widely influential. One of his most important works was 
a translation of the Bible into German. This, of course, made it 
possible for any literate person to study the Scriptures himself, 
without relying on the Church or its priests. (Incidentally, the 
superb prose of Luther’s translation had an enormous influence 
on German language and literature.) 

Luther’s theology, of course, cannot be fully described in a 
short space. One of his key ideas was the doctrine of justification 
by faith alone, an idea derived from the writings of St. Paul. 
Luther believed that man was by nature so tarnished with sin 
that good works alone could not save him from eternal damna- 
tion. Salvation comes only through faith, and only by the grace 
of God. If this were so, it was obvious that the Church practice of 

Martin Luther 125 

selling indulgences was improper and ineffective. Indeed, the 
traditional view that the Church was the necessary mediator be- 
tween the individual Christian and God was in error. If one 
followed Luther's doctrines, the whole raison d’étre of the 
Roman Catholic Church was wiped out at a stroke. 

In addition to questioning the essential role of the Church, 
Luther also protested against a variety of specific Church beliefs 
and practices. For example, he denied the existence of purgatory, 
and he denied that the clergy should be celibate. He himself, in 
1525, married a former nun, and they had six children together. 
Luther died in 1546 while on a visit to his home-town of 

Martin Luther, of course, was not the first Protestant 
thinker. He had been preceded a century earlier by Jan Hus in 
Bohemia, and by the fourteenth-century English scholar John 
Wycliffe. Indeed, the twelfth-century Frenchman Peter Waldo 
might well be considered an early Protestant. But the effect of 

Luther nails the Ninety-five 
Theses to the door of the 
church at Wittenberg. 

126 THE 100 

each of those earlier movements had been basically local. By 
1517, however, discontent with the Catholic Church was so com- 
mon that Luther’s words promptly ignited a chain of protests 
that spread rapidly through a large part of Europe. Luther, 
therefore, is rightly considered to be the man chiefly responsible 
for the commencement of the Reformation. 

The most obvious consequence of the Reformation, of 
course, is the formation of the various Protestant sects. While 
Protestantism is only one branch of Christianity, and not the 
most numerous branch at that, it still has more adherents than 
Buddhism, or, in fact, than most other religions. 

A second important consequence of the Reformation was 
the widespread religious warfare in Europe which followed it. 
Some of these religious wars (for example, the Thirty Years’ War 
in Germany, which lasted from 1618 to 1648) were incredibly 
bloody. Even aside from the wars, political conflicts between 
Catholics and Protestants were to play a major role in European 
politics for the next few centuries. 

The Reformation also played a subtle but very important 
role in the intellectual development of western Europe. Before 
1517, there had been a single established church, the Roman 
Catholic Church, and dissenters were branded as heretics. Such 
an atmosphere was certainly not conducive to independent 
thinking. After the Reformation, as various countries accepted 
the principle of freedom of religious thought, it became safer to 
speculate on other subjects as well. 

Another point is perhaps worth noting. More persons on this 
list come from Great Britain than from any other country. Ger- 
mans are the next most numerous people. Indeed, the list as a 
whole is strongly dominated by persons coming from the Protes- 
tant countries of northern Europe and America. However, one 
notices that only two of those persons (Gutenberg and 
Charlemagne) lived before 1517. Prior to that date, most of the 
persons on this list came from other parts of the world, and the 
peoples living in what are now Protestant countries made a com- 
paratively small contribution to human culture and history. This 

“Luther before the Diet of Worms,” by E. Delperee. 

obviously suggests that Protestantism or the Reformation may in 
some way be responsible for the fact that there have been such a 
large number of eminent persons from these regions in the last 
450 years. Perhaps the greater intellectual freedom existing in 
these areas has been an important factor. 

Luther was not without his faults. Though himself a rebel 
against religious authority, he could be extremely intolerant of 
those who disagreed with him on religious matters. Possibly, it 
was partly due to the example set by Luther’s intolerance that the 
religious wars were far fiercer and bloodier in Germany than 
they were, say, in England. In addition, Luther was ferociously 
anti-Semitic, and the extraordinary viciousness of his writings 
about the Jews may have helped to pave the way for the Hitler 
era in twentieth-century Germany. 


128 THE 100 

Luther frequently stressed the importance of obedience to 
lawful civil authority. Probably, his principal motivation for this 
was his objection to the Church’s interfering in civil government. 
(It should be borne in mind that the Reformation was not just a 
theological dispute. To a considerable extent, it was a nationalist 
German revolt against the influence of Rome, and it was partly 
for this reason that Luther received so much support from Ger- 
man princes.) Regardless of Luther’s intentions, however, his 
statements seem to have led many German Protestants to accept 
absolutism in political matters. In this way, too, Luther’s 
writings may have helped prepare the way for the Hitler era. 

Some people may question why Martin Luther is not placed 
even higher on this list. In the first place, although Luther may 
seem very important to Europeans and Americans, he seems far 
less important to the inhabitants of Asia and Africa, relatively 
few of whom are Christians. As far as most Chinese, Japanese, or 
Indians are concerned, the differences between Catholics and 
Protestants are quite insignificant. (Similarly, not many Euro- 
peans are interested in the differences between the Sunni and the 
Shiite branches of Islam.) In the second place, Luther is a com- 
paratively recent figure in history, and has influenced a much 
smaller span of human history than have Muhammad, Buddha, 
or Moses. Furthermore, during the past few centuries religious 
belief has been declining in the West, and the influence of 
religion on human affairs is likely to be far smaller during the 
next thousand years than it was during the preceding thousand. 
If religious belief continues to decline, Luther is apt to appear far 
less important to future historians than he does today. 

Finally, one should remember that the religious disputes of 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries did not, in the long run, 
affect as many persons as did the scientific advances which 
occurred during the same period. That is the main reason why 
Luther has been ranked behind Copernicus (who was his contem- 
porary), even though Luther played a larger individual role in the 
Protestant Reformation than Copernicus played in the scientific 



173-2: 17:99 


130 THE 100 

George Washington was born in 1732, in Wakefield, Virginia. 
The son of a wealthy planter, he inherited a substantial estate 
when he was twenty years old. From 1753 to 1758, Washington 
served in the army, taking an active part in the French and In- 
dian War, and gaining military experience and prestige. He 
returned to Virginia in late 1758, and resigned his commission. 
Shortly thereafter, he married Martha Dandridge Custis, a weal- 
thy widow with two children. (He had no children of his own.) 

Washington spent the next fifteen years managing his 
estates, and did so in a very capable fashion. By 1774, when he 
was chosen as a delegate from Virginia to the First Continental 
Congress, he was one of the richest men in the colonies. 
Washington had not been an early advocate of independence; 
nevertheless, in June 1775, the Second Continental Congress (of 
which he was also a member) unanimously chose him to com- 
mand the Continental armies. His military experience; his 
wealth and reputation; physical appearance (he was a well-built 
man, 62” in height) and tough constitution; his administrative 
talents; and, above all, his determination and strength of charac- 
ter made him the logical choice for that position. Throughout the 
war, he served without pay, and with exemplary dedication. 

Washington’s most significant achievements were ac- 
complished between June 1775, when he took command of the 
Continental armies, and March 1797, when his second term as 
President ended. He died at his home in Mount Vernon, 
Virginia, in December 1799. 

Washington’s position as the predominant figure in the 
establishment of the United States of America derives from three 
important roles which he played. 

First, he was the successful military leader in the American 
War of Independence. It is true that Washington was by no 
means a military genius. Certainly, he was not remotely in the 
class of generals such as Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar, 
and his ultimate success seems to have been due at least as much 
to the astonishing incompetence of the British commanders who 
opposed him as to his own abilities. Nevertheless, it should be 

George Washington 13] 

remembered that several other American commanders were 
severely defeated, while Washington, though he suffered several 
small defeats, managed to prosecute the war to a successful con- 

Second, Washington was the president of the Constitutional 
Convention. Although Washington’s ideas did not play a major 
role in shaping the American Constitution, his support, and the 
prestige of his name, played a major role in the ratification of 
that document by the state governments. There was, at the time, 
considerable opposition to the new Constitution, and had it not 
been for Washington’s influence, it is far from certain that it 
would have been adopted. 

In the third place, Washington was the first President of the 
United States of America. The United States was fortunate in- 
deed in having as its first president a man of the caliber and 
character of George Washington. As can be seen from the history 
of many South American and African nations, it is all too easy 
for a new nation—even if it starts out with a democratic 
constitution—to soon degenerate into a military dictatorship. 
While Washington was a firm enough leader to keep the new na- 
tion from disintegrating, he had no ambition to hold power in- 
definitely. He did not wish to be either a king or a dictator, and 
he set a precedent for the peaceful relinquishment of power—a 
precedent which has been followed in the United States to this 

George Washington was not as original and incisive a 
thinker as some of the other American leaders of the day, such as 
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and 
Benjamin Franklin. Nevertheless, he was far more important 
than any of those more brilliant men; for Washington, both in 
war and in peace, supplied the vital ingredient of executive 
leadership, without which no political movement can succeed. 
Madison’s contribution to the formation of the United States of 
America was important; Washington’s was well-nigh indispen- 

George Washington’s place on this list depends to a large ex- 

132 THE 100 

tent on one’s view of the historical importance of the United 
States of America. An impartial estimate of that importance is 
naturally difficult for a contemporary American to make. 
Although the United States attained, in the mid-twentieth cen- 
tury, a position of military strength and political influence even 
greater than that possessed by the Roman Empire at its height, 
its political power may not endure as long as Rome’s did. On the 
other hand, it seems clear that several of the technological 
developments achieved in the United States will be considered of 
great significance by other cultures and in other times. The in- 
vention of the airplane, for example, and the landing of men on 
the moon represent achievements that past ages have dreamed 
about, and it seems inconceivable that the invention of nuclear 
weapons will ever be deemed an unimportant development. 

Since George Washington is the American political figure 
who roughly corresponds to Augustus Caesar in Rome, it seems 
reasonable to rank him fairly close to Augustus on this list. If 
Washington has been ranked somewhat lower, it is principally 
because the period of his leadership was so much briefer than 
that of Augustus, and because so many other men (such as 
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison) also played important 
roles in the formation of the United States of America. However, 
Washington ranks higher than such figures as Alexander the 
Great and Napoleon because his accomplishments have been so 
much more enduring. 



Karl Marx, the principal originator of “scientific socialism,” was 
born in 1818, in the town of Trier, Germany. His father was a 
lawyer, and at seventeen Karl entered the University of Bonn to 
study law himself. Later, however, he transferred to the University 
of Berlin, and he eventually was awarded a Ph.D. in philosophy 
from the University of Jena. 

Marx then turned to journalism, and for a while he was the 
editor of the Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne. But his radical politi- 
cal views soon got him into trouble, and he moved to Paris. There 
he met Friedrich Engels, and the close personal and political 
friendship they formed was to endure for the rest of their lives. 
Though each wrote several books in his own name, their intellec- 


134 THE 100 

tual collaboration was so close that their combined output can rea- 
sonably be treated as a single joint achievement. Indeed, Marx and 
Engels are being treated as a joint entry in this book, though listed 
under Marx's name alone, as he is generally (and I think rightly) 
considered to have been the dominant partner. 

Marx was soon expelled from France, and he then moved to 
Brussels. It was there, in 1847, that he published his first signifi- 
cant work, The Poverty of Philosophy. The following year, he and 
Engels co-authored the Communist Manifesto, their most widely 
read work. Later that year, Marx returned to Cologne, but was 
expelled in a matter of months. He then moved to London, where 
he spent the rest of his life. 

Although he earned some money as a journalist, Marx spent 
the bulk of his time in London doing research and writing books 
on politics and economics. (During those years, Marx and his fam- 
ily were supported primarily by generous contributions from En- 
gels.) The first volume of Das Kapital, Marx’s most important work, 
appeared in 1867. When Marx died, in 1883, the other two vol- 
umes had not yet been completed; they were edited and published 
by Engels from the notes and manuscripts that Marx left behind. 

Marx’s writings form the theoretical basis of Communism, as 
well as many modern forms of socialism. At the time Marx died, 
no country had yet put his ideas into practice. In the century since 
then, however, Communist governments were established in many 
places, including Russia and China; and in dozens of other coun- 
tries movements based on his teachings have arisen and have at- 
tempted to gain power. The activities of those Marxist parties— 
activities which have included propaganda, assassinations, terror- 
ism, and rebellions in order to achieve power, plus wars, brutal 
repression, and bloody purges after reaching power—kept the 
world in turmoil for decades and have caused roughly 100 million 
deaths! No philosopher in history has had so great an impact on 
the world in the century after he wrote. You may believe—as I 
do—that Marxism has been a disaster, both economically and polit- 
ically; but surely it has not been an insignificant movement. In- 
deed, the only reason Marx has not been ranked even higher in 
this book is that he must share the credit—or rather, the blame— 

Karl Marx 135 

for what has occurred with many other persons, including such 
notable figures as Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Zedong. 

In view of the foregoing, it is clear that Marx deserves a high 
place on this list. The question is, how high should he be ranked? 
Even if one acknowledges the enormous influence that Commu- 
nism has had, one may still question the importance of Marx him- 
self within the Communist movement. The actual conduct of the 
Soviet government was never rigidly controlled by the works of 
Marx. He wrote about concepts such as the Hegelian dialectic and 
the surplus value of labor, and such abstractions seem to have had 
little effect on the day-to-day policies of the Russian or Chinese 

It has often been pointed out that the Marxist theory of eco- 
nomics is badly in error. Certainly, many of Marx’s specific predic- 
tions have turned out to be incorrect. For example, he predicted 
that in capitalistic countries the working people would become 
progressively poorer as time went on; clearly, this has not hap- 
pened. Marx also predicted that the middle class would be elimi- 
nated, with most of its members falling back into the proletariat, 
and only a few rising into the capitalist class. Obviously, this has 
not happened either. He also seemed to believe that increased 
mechanization would diminish the profits of the capitalists, a pre- 
diction that is not only wrong, but seems quite foolish. Whether 
his economic theories are right or wrong, however, has little to do 
with Marx’s influence. A philosopher's importance lies not in the 
correctness of his views, but in whether his ideas move people to 
action. Judged on that basis, Marx was unquestionably of enormous 

Marxist movements have generally stressed four main ideas: 
(1) A few rich persons live in great wealth, while most workers live 
in comparative poverty. (2) The way to rectify this injustice is to 
set up a socialist system; that is, a system where the means of 
production are owned by the government rather than by private 
individuals. (3) In most cases, the only practical way to establish 
this system is by a violent revolution. (4) To preserve this socialist 
system, the dictatorship of the Communist party must be main- 
tained for a considerable time. 

136 THE 100 

Each of the first three ideas had been clearly stated long be- 
fore Marx. The fourth statement is derived in part from Marx's 
idea of “the dictatorship of the proletariat.” However, the duration 
of the Soviet dictatorship appears to have been more a result of 
the practices of Lenin and Stalin than of the writings of Marx. 
It has therefore been claimed by some that Marx’s influence on 
Communism has been more nominal than real, and that the re- 
spect paid to his writings is mere window dressing, an attempt to 
claim “scientific” justification for ideas and policies that would have 
been adopted anyway. 

While there is some truth in such claims, they are surely 
much too extreme. Lenin, for example, did not merely claim to 
follow Marx’s teachings; he had actually read them, fully accepted 
them, and believed that he was following them. The same is true 

Chinese citizens at a cadre school in Beijing receive instruction in Marxism. 

Karl Marx 137 

of Mao Zedong and of many other Communist leaders. True, 
Marx's ideas may have been misunderstood or reinterpreted; how- 
ever, the same could be said for the ideas of Jesus, Buddha, or 
Muhammad. If all the main policies of the varjous Marxist govern- 
ments and movements had been directly derived from the writings 
of Karl Marx, he would be even higher on this list. 

Some of Marx’s ideas—for example, his interesting notion of 
“the economic interpretation of history’—are apt to remain influ- 
ential even if Communism itself dies out. Plainly, though, a major 
factor in deciding how high Marx should be ranked will be one’s 
estimate of the importance of Communism in the long-term history 
of the world. A century after Marx's death, there were well over a 
billion persons who were at least nominally his followers. This was 
a greater number of adherents than any other ideology has ever 
had—not just in absolute numbers, but also as a fraction of the 
total world population. That fact led many Communists to hope 
(and anti-Communists to fear) that the future might well see the 
eventual worldwide triumph of Marxism. 

In the first edition of this book I wrote, “though one cannot 
be sure just how far Communism will go and just how long it will 
last, it should be apparent by now that the ideology is solidly 
entrenched, and will be a major influence in the world for at least 
a few centuries to come.” It now appears that that estimate was 
unduly pessimistic. With the renunciation of Communism by Rus- 
sia, by the other republics of the former Soviet Union, and by most 
of the countries that had been client states of the Soviet Union, 
the role of Marxism in the world has declined precipitously over 
the past few years; and one certainly gets the impression that that 
decline is irreversible. 

If that is indeed the case—and I suspect that it is—then it 
would seem that the interval during which Marxism was a major 
force will turn out to be only about a century, rather than many 
centuries. The overall influence of Karl Marx will therefore be a 
good deal less than I had estimated in the first edition of this book. 
Even then, he will still be a significantly more important figure 
than either Napoleon or Hitler: The impact of those men was both 
briefer than Marx's and less extensive geographically. 






Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright 139 

Since the achievements of these two brothers are so closely inter- 
twined, they have been combined as a single entry, and their 
stories will be told together. Wilbur Wright was born in 1867, in 
Millville, Indiana. Orville Wright, his brother, was born in 
1871, in Dayton, Ohio. Both boys received high school educa- 
tions, although neither actually received his diploma. 

Both boys were mechanically gifted, and both were in- 
terested in the subject of manned flight. In 1892, they opened a 
shop where they sold, repaired, and manufactured bicycles. This 
provided funds for their overriding interest, which was 
aeronautical research. They eagerly read the writings of other 
workers in aeronautics — Otto Lilienthal, Octave Chanute, and 
Samuel P. Langley. In 1899, they started working on the pro- 
blem of flight themselves. By December 1903, after a little more 
than four years’ work, their efforts were crowned with success. 

One may wonder why the Wright brothers were able to suc- 
ceed where so many others had failed. There were several 
reasons for their success. In the first place, two heads are much 
better than one. The Wright brothers always worked together 
and cooperated perfectly with each other. In the second place, 
they wisely decided that they would first learn how to fly before 
attempting to build a powered airplane. This sounds a bit 
paradoxical: how can you learn to fly unless you first have an 
airplane? The answer is that the Wright brothers learned how to 
fly by using gliders. They started working with kites and gliders 
in 1899. The next year, they brought their first full-scale glider 
(that is, large enough to carry a man) to Kitty Hawk, in North 
Carolina, to test it out. It was not too satisfactory. They built and 
tested a second full-scale glider in 1901, and a third in 1902. The 
third glider incorporated some of their most important innova- 
tions. (Some of their basic patents, applied for in 1903, relate to 
that glider rather than to their first powered plane.) In the third 
glider, they made more than a thousand successful flights. The 
Wright brothers were already the best and most experienced 
glider pilots in the world before they started to build a powered 

140 THE 100 

Their experience with glider flights provides a third clue to 
their success. Most persons who had previously attempted to con- 
struct airplanes had worried chiefly about how to get their con- 
traptions off the ground. The Wright brothers correctly realized 
that the biggest problem would be how to control the aircraft 
after it was in the air. They therefore spent most of their time 
and effort designing ways to maintain the stability and control of 
the aircraft during flight. They succeeded in devising means for 
three-axis control of their craft, and this enabled them to achieve 
complete maneuverability. 

The Wright brothers also made important contributions to 
wing design. They soon realized that the previously published 
data on this subject were unreliable. They therefore built their 
own wind tunnel, and in it tested more than two hundred dif- 
ferently shaped wing surfaces. On the basis of these experiments, 
they were able to construct their own tables describing how the 
pressure of the air upon a wing depended on the wing shape. 
This information was then used to design wings for their aircraft. 

The Wright brothers’ original biplane. 


Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright 14] 

Despite all these achievements, the Wright brothers could 
not have succeeded if they had not appeared at the right moment 
in history. Attempts at powered flight in the first half of the nine- 
teenth century were inevitably doomed to failure. Steam engines 
were simply too heavy in proportion to the power that they pro- 
duced. By the time the Wright brothers came along, efficient in- 
ternal combustion engines had already been invented. However, 
those internal combustion engines in common use had far too 
high a ratio of weight to power to be usable in a flying machine. 
As no manufacturer seemed able to design an engine with a low 
enough weight-to-power ratio, the Wright brothers (with the 
help of a mechanic) designed their own. It is an indication of 
their genius that, although they spent relatively little time on the 
design of the engine, they were still able to construct an engine 
superior to those which most manufacturers could design. In ad- 
dition, the Wright brothers had to design their own propellers. 
The one that they used in 1903 had about a 66 percent efficiency. 

The first flight was made on December 17, 1903, at Kill 
Devil Hill, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The brothers each 
made two flights on that day. The first flight, made by Orville 
Wright, lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. The final flight, 
made by Wilbur Wright, lasted 59 seconds and covered 852 feet. 
Their plane, which they called the Flyer I (it is today popularly 
called the Kitty Hawk), cost less than a thousand dollars to build. 
It had a wing span of about 40 feet and weighed about 750 
pounds. It had a 12-horsepower engine, which weighed only 170 
pounds. Incidentally, the original airplane is now in the National 
Air and Space Museum, in Washington, D.C. 

Although there were five witnesses to those first flights, 
relatively few newspapers reported it the next day (and generally 
not very accurately). Their hometown paper in Dayton, Ohio, 
ignored it completely. It was, in fact, almost five years before it 
was generally realized in the world at large that manned flight 
had actually been achieved. 

After their flights at Kitty Hawk, the Wright brothers 
returned to Dayton, where they built a second airplane, the 
Flyer II. They made 105 flights in that airplane in 1904, without, 

142 THE 100 

however, attracting much attention. Flyer IJ, an improved and 
very practical model, was built in 1905. Even though they had 
made many flights near Dayton, most people still did not believe 
that the airplane had been invented. In 1906, for example, the 
Paris edition of the Herald Tribune carried an article on the 
Wright brothers with the headline “Flyers or Liars?” 

In 1908, however, the Wright brothers put an end to the 
public’s doubts. Wilbur Wright took one of their planes to 
France, gave a series of public demonstrations of the aircraft in 

The historic first flight of the Wright brothers airplane at Kitty Hawk. 


ans om 
RP kiad 4 #8 ha tt ced 

Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright 143 

action, and organized a company there to market their inven- 
tion. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Orville Wright was 
giving similar public displays. Unfortunately, on September 17, 
1908, the plane he was flying crashed. It was the only serious ac- 
cident that either of them ever had. A passenger was killed, and 
Orville broke a leg and two ribs, but recovered. His successful 
flights, however, had already persuaded the United States gov- 
ernment to sign a contract for the supply of airplanes to the U.S. 
War Department, and in 1909 the Federal budget included an 
allocation of $30,000 for Army aviation. 

For a while there was considerable patent litigation be- 
tween the Wright brothers and rival claimants, but in 1914 the 
courts ruled in their favor. Meanwhile, Wilbur Wright con- 
tracted typhoid fever and died in 1912, at the age of forty-five. 
Orville Wright, who in 1915 sold his financial interests in the 
airplane company, lived on till 1948. Neither of the brothers ever 

Despite a lot of earlier research in the field, and many prior 
attempts and claims, there is no question that the Wright 
brothers deserve the lion’s share of the credit for the invention of 
the airplane. In deciding where to rank them on this list, 
therefore, the main factor is one’s assessment of the importance 
of the airplane itself. It seems to me that the airplane is a far less 
important invention than either the printing préss or the steam 
engine, each of which has revolutionized the entire mode of 
human existence. Still, it is unquestionably an invention of great 
significance, with applications in both peace and war. In a few 
decades, the airplane has shrunk our once vast planet and turned 
it into a small world. Furthermore, the successful achievement of 
manned flight was an essential preliminary to the development 
of space travel. 

For untold centuries men had dreamed of flying. But prac- 
tical persons had always believed that the “flying carpets” of the 
Arabian Nights were only dreams, and could never exist in the 
real world. The genius of the Wright brothers fulfilled the age- 
old dream of mankind, and turned a fairy tale into reality. 



6. AAO 2S 22 7 

Genghis Khan, the great Mongol conqueror, was born about 
1162. His father, a petty Mongol chieftain, named the boy 
Temujin, after a defeated rival chieftain. When Temujin was 
nine, his father was killed by members of a rival tribe, and for 
some years the surviving members of the family lived in constant 
danger and privation. This was an inauspicious beginning, but 
Temujin’s situation was to become a lot worse before it got bet- 
ter. When he was a young man, he was captured in a raid by a 
rival tribe. To prevent his escaping, a wooden collar was placed 
around his neck. From this extremity of helplessness, as an il- 
literate prisoner in a primitive, barren country, Temujin rose to 
become the most powerful man in the world. 

Genghis Khan | 145 

His rise started when he managed to escape from his cap- 
tors. He then allied himself with Toghril, a friend of his father’s, 
and chieftain of one of the related tribes living in the area. There 
followed many years of internecine warfare among these various 
Mongol tribes, in the course of which Temujin gradually fought 
his way to the top. 

The tribesmen of Mongolia had long been known as skilled 
horsemen and fierce warriors. Throughout history, they had 
made sporadic raids into northern China. However, before the 
rise of Temujin, the various tribes had always spent most of their 
energy in fighting each other. By a combination of military 
prowess, diplomacy, ruthlessness, and organizational ability, 
Temujin managed to weld all of these tribes together under his 
leadership, and in 1206 an assembly of the Mongol chieftains 
proclaimed him Genghis Khan, or “the universal emperor.” 

The formidable military machine that Genghis Khan had 
assembled was then turned outward upon neighboring nations. 
He first attacked the Hsi Hsia state in northwestern China and 
the Chin Empire in northern China. While these battles were go- 
ing on, a dispute arose between Genghis Khan and the 
Khwarezm Shah Muhammad, who ruled a considerable empire 
in Persia and central Asia. In 1219, Genghis led his armies 
against the Khwarezm Shah. Central Asia and Persia were over- 
run, and the Khwarezm Shah’s empire was completely 
destroyed. While other Mongol armies were attacking Russia, 
Genghis Khan himself led a raid into Afghanistan and northern 
India. He returned to Mongolia in 1225, and died there in 1227. 

Shortly before his death, Genghis Khan requested that his 
third son, Ogadai, be named to succeed him. It was a wise 
choice, for Ogadai became a brilliant general in his own right. 
Under his leadership, the Mongol armies continued to advance in 
China, completely overran Russia, and advanced into Europe. 
In 1241], a series of Polish, German, and Hungarian armies were 
completely routed by the Mongols, who advanced well past 
Budapest. However, in that year Ogadai died, and the Mongol 
armies withdrew from Europe, never to return. 

146 THE 100 

There was a substantial interruption while the Mongol 
chieftains argued about the succession. However, under the next 
two Khans (Genghis’s grandsons, Mangu Khan and Kublai 
Khan) the Mongol advance in Asia was resumed. By 1279, when 
Kublai Khan completed the conquest of China, the Mongols 
ruled the largest land empire in all of history. Their domains in- 
cluded China, Russia, and Central Asia, in addition to Persia 
and most of Southwest Asia. Their armies had raided successfully 
from Poland to northern India, and Kublai Khan’s sovereignty 
was recognized in Korea, Tibet, and parts of Southeast Asia. 

An empire of this size, given the primitive means of 
transportation existing at the time, could not possibly be held 
together for long, and the Mongol empire soon split up. But 
Mongol rule lasted for a long time in several of the successor 
states. The Mongols were expelled from most of China in 1368. 
In Russia, however, their rule lasted much longer. The Golden 
Horde, the name ususally given to the Mongol kingdom set up in 
Russia by Genghis’s grandson Batu, endured until the sixteenth 
century, and the Khanate of the Crimea survived until 1783. 
Other sons or grandsons of Genghis established dynasties that 
ruled in central Asia and in Persia. Both of these areas were con- 
quered in the fourteenth century by Timur (Tamerlane), who 
was himself of Mongol blood, and who claimed descent from 
Genghis. Tamerlane’s dynasty was finally brought to an end in 
the fifteenth century. However, even this was not the end of 
Mongol conquests and rule. Tamerlane’s great-great-grandson, 
Baber, invaded India, there to found the Mogul (Mongol) dynas- 
ty. The Mogul rulers, who eventually conquered almost all of In- 
dia, remained in power until the mid-eighteenth century. 

In the course of history, there has been a succession of 
men-—madmen, if you will—who set out to conquer the world 
and who achieved a considerable measure of success. The most 
notable of these megalomaniacs were Alexander the Great, 
Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler. Why do 
all four of these men rank so highly on this listP Are not ideas 
ultimately more important than armies? I would certainly agree 

Genghis Khan 147 

that in the long run the pen is mightier than the sword. 
However, the short run matters, too. Each of these four men con- 
trolled such a large territory and population, and exerted such an 
enormous influence on the lives of their contemporaries, that 
they cannot be curtly dismissed as common bandits. 

The Mongol conquests. 



MB) The Empire of Genghis Khan at his death in 1227 
@ Areas controlled by the Mongols at their height, about 1300 

Genghis Khan had his capital at Karakorum 
Kubilai Kahn had his capital at Khanbaligh 




Adam Smith, the leading figure in the development of economic 
theory, was born in 1723, in the town of Kirkcaldy, Scotland. As 
a young man, he studied at Oxford University, and from 1751 to 
1764 he was a professor of philesophy at Glasgow University. 
While there, he published his first book, Theory of Moral Sen- 
timents, which established his reputation in intellectual circles. 
However, his lasting fame rests primarily on his great work, An 
Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 
which was published in 1776. The book was an immediate suc- 
cess, and for the rest of his life Smith enjoyed fame and respect. 
He died in Kirkcaldy, in 1790. Smith had no children and never 

Adam Smith was not the first person to devote himself to 
economic theory, and many of his best-known ideas were not 

Adam Smith 149 

original. But he was the first to present a comprehensive and 
systematic theory of economics that was sufficiently correct to 
serve as a foundation for future progress in the field. For this 
reason, it may fairly be said that The Wealth of Nations is the 
starting point of the modern study of political economy. 

One of the book’s great achievements was that it cleared 
away many past misconceptions. Smith argued against the older 
mercantilist theory, which stressed the importance of a state hav- 
ing large supplies of gold bullion. Similarly, his book rejected the 
view of the physiocrats that land was the principal source of 
value, and instead asserted the basic importance of labor. Smith 
heavily stressed the great increase in production that could be 
brought about through the division of labor, and he attacked the 
whole set of antiquated and arbitrary government restrictions 
that were hampering industrial expansion. 

The central idea of The Wealth of Nations is that the seem- 
ingly chaotic free market is actually a self-regulating mechanism, 
which automatically tends to produce the type and quantity of 
goods that are most desired and needed by the community. For 
example, suppose some desirable product is in short supply. 
Naturally, its price will increase, and the higher price will lead to 
higher profits for those who manufacture it. Because of the high 
profits, other manufacturers will be eager to produce the article 
also. The resultant increase in production will alleviate the 
original shortage. Furthermore, the increased supply, in con- 
junction with competition between various manufacturers, will 
tend to reduce the price of the commodity to its “natural price,” 
i.e., its production cost. No one has deliberately set out to help 
society by eliminating the shortage; nevertheless, the problem 
has been solved. Each person, in Smith’s words, “intends only his 
- own gain,” but he is, as it were, “led by an invisible hand to pro- 
mote an end which was no part of his intention...By pursuing his 
own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more ef- 
fectually than when he really intends to promote it” (The Wealth 
of Nations, Book IV, Chapter IT). 

The “invisible hand,” however, cannot do the job properly 

150 THE 100 

if there are obstructions to free competition. Smith therefore 
believed in free trade and argued strongly against high tariffs. In 
fact, he strongly opposed most government interference with 
business and the free market. Such interference, he claimed, 
almost always decreases economic efficiency, and ultimately 
results in the public paying higher prices. (Smith did not invent 
the term “laissez faire,” but he did more than any other man to 
promote the concept.) 

Some people have the impression that Adam Smith was a 
mere apologist for business interest, but such a view is incorrect. 
He repeatedly, and in the strongest terms, denounced monopolis- 
tic business practices and urged their elimination. Nor was Smith 
naive regarding actual business practices. Here is a typical obser- 
vation from The Wealth of Nations: “People of the same trade 
seldom meet together but the conversation ends in a conspiracy 
against the public, or in some diversion to raise prices.” 

So well did Adam Smith organize and present his system of 
economic thought, that within a few decades the earlier schools 
of economic thought were abandoned. Virtually all of their good 
points had been incorporated into Smith’s system, while he had 
systematically exposed their shortcomings. Smith’s successors, in- 
cluding such important economists as Thomas Malthus and 
David Ricardo, elaborated and refined his system (without 
changing its basic outlines) into the structure that is today refer- 
red to as classical economics. Although modern economic theory 
has added new concepts and techniques, it is largely a natural 
outgrowth of classical economics. 

In The Wealth of Nations, Smith partly anticipated the 
views of Malthus on overpopulation. However, while Ricardo 
and Karl Marx both insisted that population pressure would pre- 
vent wages from rising above the subsistence level (the so-called 
“iron law of wages”), Smith stated that under conditions of in- 
creasing production wages would be able to increase. Quite ob- 
viously, events have proved that Smith was correct on this point, 
while Ricardo and Marx were wrong. 

Quite aside from any question of the correctness of Smith’s 

Adam Smith 151] 

views, or of his influence upon later theorists, is the matter of his 
influence upon legislation and government policies. The Wealth 
of Nations was written with great skill and clarity, and it was 
widely read. Smith’s arguments against government interference 
in business and commercial affairs, and in favor of low tariffs 
and free trade, had a decided influence upon governmental 
policies during the entire nineteenth century. Indeed, his in- 
fluence cn such policies is still felt today. 

Since economic theory has advanced greatly since Smith’s 
day, and since some of his ideas have been superseded, it is easy 
to underrate Adam Smith’s importance. The fact is, though, that 
he was the principal originator and founder of economic theory 
as a systematic study, and as such is a major figure in the history 
of human thought. 

Smith is commemorated 
on the Scots penny. 


Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford 

From the portrait attributed to Marcus Gheeraedts, formerly in the collection of 
His Grace, The Duke of St. Albans. Reproduced by permission of Susan L. 

Hanson, David J. Hanson, and Trustees of the Minos D. Miller Sr. Trust, LA, 

© RutH LLoyD MILLER, 1975 



better known as 


The great British playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, is 
generally acknowledged to be the greatest writer who ever lived. 
There is a good deal of dispute about his identity (which will be 
discussed below), but the talent and achievements of the author 
are agreed to by all. 

Shakespeare wrote at least thirty-six plays, including such 
masterpieces as Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Julius Caesar, and 
Othello, a magnificent set of 154 sonnets, and a few longer poems. 
In view of his genius, accomplishments, and deserved fame, it may 
seem a bit odd that his name does not appear higher on this list. 
I have ranked Shakespeare this low not because I am unapprecia- 
tive of his artistic accomplishments, but only because of my belief 
that, in general, literary and artistic figures have had comparatively 
little influence on human history. 

The activities of a religious leader, scientist, politician, ex- 
plorer, or philosopher frequently influence developments in many 
other fields of human endeavor. For example, scientific advances 
have had tremendous impact upon economic and political affairs, 
and have also affected religious beliefs, philosophical attitudes, and 
developments in art. 

However, a famous painter, though he may have a great deal 
of influence upon the work of subsequent painters, is likely to have 
very little influence upon the development of music and literature, 
and virtually none upon science, exploration, or other fields of 


154 THE 100 

human endeavor. Similar statements can be made concerning po- 
ets, playwrights, and composers of music. In general, artistic fig- 
ures influence only art, and indeed, only the particular field of art 
in which they work. It is for this reason that no figure in the literary, 
musical, or visual arts has been ranked in the top twenty, and only 
a handful appear on this list at all. 

Why, then, are there any artistic figures on this list? One 
answer is that our general culture—in the sociological sense—is in 
part created by art. Art helps to form the connective glue of society. 
It is no accident that art is a feature of every human civilization 
that has ever existed. 

Furthermore, the enjoyment of art plays a direct part in the 
life of each individual person. In other words, an individual may 
spend part of his time reading books, part of his time looking at 
paintings, etc. Even if the time we spent listening to music had no 
effect whatsoever upon our other activities that time would still 
represent some not insignificant fraction of our lives. However, art 
does affect our other activities, and in some sense our whole life. 
Art connects us to our souls; it expresses our deepest feelings and 
validates them for us. 

In some cases, artistic works have a more or less explicit philo- 
sophical content, which can influence our attitudes on other topics. 
This, of course, occurs more frequently in the case of literary com- 
positions than in the case of music or paintings. For example, when 
in Romeo and Juliet (Act III, scene 1) Shakespeare has the prince 
say, “Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill,” an idea is 
presented that (whether or not one accepts it) has obvious philo- 
sophical content, and is more likely to influence political attitudes 
than is, say, viewing the “Mona Lisa.” 

It seems beyond dispute that Shakespeare is preeminent 
among all literary figures. Relatively few people today read the 
works of Chaucer, Virgil, or even Homer, except when those works 
are assigned reading in school. However, a performance of one of 
Shakespeare's plays is certain to be well attended. Shakespeare's 
gift for a well-turned phrase is without parallel, and he is fre- 
quently quoted—even by persons who have never seen or read his 

Edward de Vere 155 

plays. Furthermore, it is plain that his popularity is not a mere 
passing fad. His works have given pleasure to readers and viewers 
for almost four centuries. As they have already stood the test of 
time, it seems reasonable to assume that the works of Shakespeare 
will continue to be popular for a good many centuries to come. 

In assessing Shakespeare's importance, one should take into 
account that had he not lived, his plays would never have been 
written at all. (Of course, a corresponding statement could be made 
regarding every artistic or literary figure, but that factor does not 
seem particularly important in evaluating the influence of minor 
artists. ) 

Although Shakespeare wrote in English, he is truly a world 
figure. If not quite a universal language, English is closer to being 
one than any other language ever has been. Moreover, Shake- 
speare’s works have been very widely translated, and his works 
have been read and performed in a very large number of countries. 

There are, of course, some popular authors whose writings are 
disdained by literary critics. Not so with Shakespeare, whose works 
have received unstinting praise from literary scholars. Generations 
of playwrights have studied his works and have attempted to emu- 
late his literary virtues. This combination of enormous influence 
on other writers and continued worldwide popularity makes it 
plain that William Shakespeare is entitled to a high position in this 
book. However, there has long been a controversy as to the identity 
of the man who wrote under that name. 

The orthodox view (which I accepted uncritically when writ- 
ing the first edition of this book) is that he was the same person as 
William Shakspere, who was born in Stratford-on-Avon in 1564 and 
died there in 1616. However, on carefully evaluating the arguments 
of the skeptics and the counter-arguments of the orthodox, I have 
concluded that the skeptics have much the better of the argument 
and have reasonably established their case. 

The bulk of the evidence indicates that “William Shakespeare” 
was a pseudonym used by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, 
and that William Shakspere (or Shaxpere, or Shakspeyr, or Shag- 
spere, or Shaxbere: the family name was spelled several ways in 

156 THE 100 

Stratford, but almost always without the first “e”; it was therefore 
pronounced quite differently—with a short “a’—than Shakespeare) 
was merely a prosperous merchant whose business took him to 
London, but who had nothing to do with the writing of the plays. 

I am not suggesting that de Vere was a ghostwriter for Shak- 
spere, who took public credit for the plays at the time. During his 
lifetime, Shakspere was not considered to be the author, nor did 
he ever claim to be! The notion that Shakspere was the great play- 
wright William Shakespeare did not arise until 1623—seven years 
after Shakspere died!—when the First Folio edition of Shake- 
speare’s plays appeared. The editors of that book included some 
prefatory material in which it was strongly hinted (though never 
said directly) that the man from Stratford-on-Avon was the author. 

To understand why it is so unlikely that Shakspere was the 
playwright it is first necessary to present the orthodox version of 
his biography, which goes as follows: 

Shakspere’s father, John, had once been fairly prosperous, but 
he fell on hard times, and young William was reared in difficult 
financial circumstances. Nevertheless, he attended the Stratford 
Grammar School, where he studied Latin and classical literature. 

When William was eighteen he made a young woman named 
Anne Hathaway pregnant. He duly married her, and she gave birth 
a few months later. Two and one-half years later she gave birth to 
twins: so William had a wife and three children to support before 
he was twenty-one years old. 

We have no knowledge of his activities or whereabouts for the 
next six years, but in the early 1590s he was present in London as 
a member of an acting troup. He was a successful actor, but soon 
branched out into writing plays and poetry. By 1598 he was already 
being hailed as the greatest of all English writers, living or dead. 
Shakspere stayed in London for about twenty years, during which 
time he wrote at least thirty-six plays, 154 sonnets, and a few longer 
poems. Within a few years he became prosperous, and in 1597 was 
able to purchase an expensive home (“New Place’) in Stratford. 
His family remained behind in Stratford the whole time, but he 
continued to support them. 

Edward de Vere 157 

Oddly, he never published anv of the great plays he was writ- 
ing. But unscrupulous printers, realizing their commercial value, 
published pirated editions of nearly half of them. Although the 
pirated editions are often rather garbled, Shakspere made no at- 
tempt to interfere. 

About 1612, when he was forty-eight years old, he suddenly 
retired from writing, returned to Stratford, and resumed living 
with his wife. He died there in April 1616, and was buried in the 
church courtyard. The stone over his supposed grave does not bear 
his name; however, some time later a monument was erected on 
the wall nearby. Three weeks before his death he executed a will, 
leaving most of his property to his elder daughter, Susanna. She 
and her descendants continued to live at New Place until the last 
of them died, in 1670. 

Hedingham Castle, the birthplace and childhood 
home of Edward de Vere. 

158 THE 100 

It should be pointed out that a good deal of the foregoing 
biography is pure conjecture on the part of orthodox biographers. 
For example, there is no actual record of Shakspere ever being a 
student at Stratford Grammar School. Nor did any student or 
teacher there ever claim to have been a classmate or instructor of 
the famous playwright. Similarly, it is unclear that he ever had an 
acting career. 

Nevertheless, at first sight, the official story may sound plaus- 
ible. However, as soon as we examine it closely, grave difficulties 

The first problem—mentioned even by many orthodox biogra- 
phers—is that we have so little information about the life of Shak- 
spere, very much less than we would expect to have about so 
prominent a person. In an attempt to explain this surprising pau- 
city of data people sometimes say, “He lived almost four hundred 
years ago. Naturally most of the documents by and about him have 
been lost.” But that view greatly underestimates the amount of 
information we have about the era Shakspere lived in. 

He was not living in a backward country or a barbaric age, 
but in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, a well-docu-_ 
mented era where there were printing presses, where writing ma- 
terials were commonplace, and where very many persons knew 
how to read and write. Of course, many papers have been lost; but 
several million original documents from that era still survive. 

Because of the great interest in William Shakespeare, an army 
of scholars has spent three generations scouring that data, search- 
ing for information about the world’s most renowned literary ge- 
nius. As a by-product of that search they have uncovered reams of 
information about every other major poet of the day—and about 
many minor poets as well. But all they have uncovered about Shak- 
spere are about three dozen minor references, not one of which 
describes him as a poet or playwright! 

We know incomparably more about the lives of Francis Bacon, 
Queen Elizabeth, Ben Jonson, or Edmund Spencer than we do 
about Shakspere’s life. Indeed, we know far more about even such 
a minor poet as John Lyly than we do of Shakspere. 

The contrast with Isaac Newton—history’s foremost scientific 

Edward de Vere 159 

genius—is particularly striking. We have many thousands of origi- 
nal documents by and about Newton (who, like Shakspere, came 
from a small town in England). Admittedly, Newton was born sev- 
enty-eight years after Shakspere. But we also have much more 
detailed information about Galileo (born the same year as Shak- 
spere), about Michelangelo (born eighty-nine years earlier), or even 
about Boccaccio (born in 1313) than we do about Shakspere. 

A related problem is the fact that during his years in London 
the great playwright was virtually invisible. Shakspere is supposed 
to have spent roughly twenty years in London (1592-1612). But we 
cannot find a single record, during that whole twenty-year stretch, 
of anyone seeing the great actor and playwright in the flesh. When 
people saw the famous actor Richard Burbage or met the play- 
wright Ben Jonson, they marked it down as a notable event. But if 
anyone in London, during the whole twenty years of his greatest 
prominence, saw Shakspere on stage, or discussed poetry with 
him, or corresponded with him, or met him at a party or on the 
street, they did not think the encounter worthy of mention! 

The only plausible explanation for the above facts is that the 
name “William Shakespeare” was a pseudonym used by the author 
in a successful attempt to keep his identity secret, and that those 
persons who did meet the author therefore did not know they were 
meeting the great William Shakespeare. (Obviously, Shakspere, 
whose name was so similar, could not have successfully hidden 
behind such a pen-name. ) 

Perhaps an even graver difficulty with the official story is the 
attitude towards Shakspere in Stratford-on-Avon. Though Shak- 
spere is supposed to have been the greatest writer in England— 
and a well-known actor to boot—nobody in his home town seemed 
to be aware that he was a famous man, nor that there was anything 
unusual about him! This is even more amazing when one recalls 
that he was poor when he left Stratford and wealthy when he 
returned, a change which would naturally tend to make friends 
and neighbors curious. Yet the fact is that during his lifetime, not 
one of his friends, or neighbors in Stratford—not even his own 
family!—ever referred to Shakspere as an actor, a playwright, a 
poet, or a literary figure of any sort! 

160 THE 100 

Well, what about the manuscripts of the plays in Shakspere’s 
own handwriting? Surely they prove that he was the author. Unfor- 
tunately, there are no manuscripts of the plays in his handwriting, 
or any early drafts, or any fragments, or any unpublished or unfin- 
ished works. In fact, aside from six signatures on legal documents, 
there is NOTHING in his handwriting! No notes, no notebooks, 
no memoranda, no diaries. Not a single personal letter by him 
survives, nor a single business letter. (Nor do even his earliest 
biographers report having seen a single line in his handwriting.) 
Judging from the record, it appears that Shakspere, far from being 
an author, was barely literate, or even illiterate! 

A related point is that Shakspere’s parents, wife, and children 
were all illiterate. Now a man does not choose his parents, and he 
might select a mate for reasons other than her reading ability, but 
it seems scarcely believable that a man to whom the written word 
meant so much would allow his own daughters to grow up unable 
to read and write. If Shakspere was indeed Shakespeare, then he 
is the only prominent author in history whose children are known 
to have been illiterate! 

Then there is the question of Shakspere’s will. The original 
document survives: it is three pages long, and lists his property in 
considerable detail, with many specific bequests. Nowhere does it 
mention any poems, any plays, any manuscripts, any works in 
progress, or any literary rights. Nor does it make mention of any 
personal books or papers. There is no hint that he would like to 
see his remaining plays published (although at least twenty of them 
had not yet appeared in print), or that he had ever written a play 
or poem in his life. It is the will of an unschooled, possibly illiterate, 

We might also note that, in an era when the English poets 
typically arranged gaudy funerals and composed lengthy poetic 
eulogies when one of their members died, the death of Shakspere 
in 1616 went completely unmentioned by every writer in England. 
Not even Ben Jonson—who later claimed to have been a great 
admirer and friend of William Shakespeare—expressed the slight- 

Edward de Vere 161 

shene er ‘ 2 PS 

af leur , pata bag shies ti nina er rousto ii be r i mt fe ae . 
a yostre grant Se se, Fe fare. alfel Tor on EMMETS mY. some. VOUS # ao 
plentment (precrecz. Pb rs : mere. ie le que fe. 4 me thamne dei ei i ao 
phat $osse. ay.) ye b ms rite mbaes. pour, Lbfernation ha oe ie ie ae ee | 
Jelen Vex appointemens, 42 ne - delibe z aie eapal iteot en tonte. (een. 

Lome thaie iad {¢ Poca as 

de. mon ca pear ce que sf nie long A feos " Paigne a * 
fe we omens, ct fe temps eft conrt a * eftz hene 6 Vows prie AsBufes Panes 
ment wien extufer sour [ce profnt:vavn affeurant par le premer 
94) Dam se Leos fer [cauew Sicn ant oe onl be pric adie 

‘Vors donee juate 


Berd Osiifgrd. 
ay ee 

Letter written (in French) by Edward de Vere when he was 13 years old. 

162 THE 100 

est regret when Shakspere died, or mentioned the event at all. 
Clearly, the other poets of the day saw no connection between the 
Stratford man and the great playwright. 

To my mind, the foregoing arguments are already conclusive, 
and no further proof is needed that Shakspere was not the play- 
wright and that “William Shakespeare” was a pseudonym used to 
conceal the true author's identity. However, there are additional 
strong arguments against Shakspere being the author, although 
their persuasiveness is not crucial to the case against him. 

For example, it has been pointed out that most dramatists and 
writers of fiction include in their writings many incidents from 
their own lives. (Often, such events form a major part of the story.) 
But the plays of Shakespeare are virtually devoid of any incidents 
or circumstances which can be traced back to Shakspere’s own 

Another argument is that the author, William Shakespeare, 
was obviously an extremely well educated man; witness his enor- 
mous vocabulary (much larger than that of any other playwright), 
his familiarity with both Latin and French, his accurate knowledge 
of legal terminology, and his voluminous knowledge of classical 
literature. But everyone agrees that Shakspere never attended a 
university, and (as explained above) it is doubtful whether he even 
attended grammar school. 

Still another point is that Shakespeare (the author) seems to 
be of aristocratic sympathies and background, very familiar with 
the sports of the aristocracy (such as fox-hunting and falconry) and 
familiar with court life and court intrigues. Shakspere, on the other 
hand, came from a small town and had a petit bourgeois back- 

There are many other aspects of the life of Shakspere that do 
not fit in with the hypothesis that he was the famous author, Wil- 
liam Shakespeare, and I could easily write many pages describing 
additional difficulties with that theory. (The reader who wants 
more details can find them in the excellent book, The Mysterious 
William Shakespeare, by Charlton Ogburn.) Of course, orthodox 

Edward de Vere 163 

biographers have constructed hypothetical explanations for each 
of those difficulties, and for each of the problems I have already 
described. Some of those explanations are rather unlikely, but each 
one individually is at least possible. 

For example, it is possible—although people tend to save let- 
ters that they receive from famous men—that by the merest coinci- 
dence every personal or business letter that Shakspere ever wrote 
has vanished without a trace, together with all his notes, notebooks, 
and manuscripts. It is possible that the greatest of English poets 
composed for his own epitaph the childish piece of doggerel that 
we see on Shakspere’s gravestone. It is possible that a man whose 
plays show that he admired intelligent, educated women let his 
own daughters grow up illiterate. And it is possible that, although 
Shakspere was the most celebrated writer in England, not a single 
one of his friends, family, or neighbors in Stratford ever referred 
to him as an actor, poet, or playwright. It’s not very likely, but it’s 
possible! | 

However, in this case, as in most, the whole is greater than 
any of its parts. Were there just one or two difficulties with the 
official story, we might accept even rather far-fetched explanations 
for them. But after a while we cant help noticing that nothing 
seems to fit the official story naturally. Everything about that story 
seems to require an ad hoc, and often far-fetched, explanation. The 
problem is that William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon was a 
barely literate small-town merchant, and neither his education, nor 
his character, nor his actions, nor what his family and neighbors 
said about him, are consistent with his being the great author, 
William Shakespeare. 

Well, if Shakspere was not the author of the plays, who was? 
Many other persons have been suggested, of which the best known 
is the famous philosopher Francis Bacon. But in recent years, the 
accumulation of evidence has swung opinion strongly towards Ed- 
ward de Vere. 

We know a lot about Edward de Vere: he led an adventurous 
life, and many events in his life are mirrored in the plays. He was 

164 THE 100 

born in 1550, the son and heir of the 16th Ear] of Oxford, a wealthy 
and high-ranking aristocrat. As befit the heir to a title which went 
back to the Norman Conquest, young Edward received training in 
all the customary skills of a young lord: riding, hunting, military 
arts, and also such milder pursuits as music and dancing. Nor was 
his academic education ignored. He had private tutors for both 
French and Latin, as well as other subjects. Eventually he obtained 
a bachelor’s degree from Cambridge University and a master’s de- 
gree from Oxford. Afterwards, he studied law for a year at Gray's 
Inn, one of the famed Inns of Court in London. 

His father died when Edward was only twelve, and his mother 
subsequently remarried. However, Edward did not remain with 
his mother for long. Instead, he became a royal ward, and a guard- 
ian was appointed for him. The guardian chosen was William Cecil, 
Lord Treasurer of England, and a member of Queen Elizabeth's 
privy council for many years. As the Queen's oldest and most 
trusted adviser, Cecil was one of the most powerful men in En- 

Young de Vere, as befitted his high rank, was treated as a family 
member in Cecil's household. (A somewhat mysterious incident, in 
which he killed one of Cecil's servants, was kept out of the courts 
due to Cecil’s influence.) In his late teens he was introduced to 
Court, where he met all the leading figures, including the Queen 
herself. She was much taken with the young man who, in addition 
to being brilliant, athletic, and charming, was also very good-look- 
ing, and he soon became a favorite of hers. 

When he was twenty-one, de Vere married Anne Cecil, his 
guardians daughter. Since they had been reared together, and she 
was almost his “kid sister,” such a marriage was quite unusual. (But 
Posthumus Leonatus, the hero of Cymbeline, was also a royal ward 
who married his guardian's daughter, and there are many other 
resemblances between his story and de Vere’s.) 

When he was twenty-four, de Vere embarked on a lengthy trip 
through Europe. He visited France and Germany, spent about ten 
months in Italy, and then returned to England via France. On the 
trip back across the English Channel his ship was attacked by 
pirates, who planned to hold their captives for ransom. But de 

Edward de Vere 165 

Vere informed the pirates of his personal friendship with Queen 
Elizabeth, and the pirates decided it was prudent to release him 
promptly without demanding a ransom. (A very similar incident 
occurs to the hero of Hamlet.) 

Meanwhile, his wife Anne had given birth to a daughter. 
Though the girl had been born only eight months after de Vere 
left England, he insisted that the child was not his, and, claiming 
that Anne was an adulteress, he refused to live with her. Most 
historians fee] that his charge was ill-founded. Apparently de Vere 
eventually reached this conclusion also, as after a five-year separa- 
tion he dropped his charges and resumed living with Anne. (False 
charges of the adultery of a blameless young wife are a common 
theme in Shakespeare's plays. For example: All’s Well That Ends 
Well, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, and Othello. And in every case 
the grievously wronged wife forgives her husband.) 

During the five-year separation from his wife, de Vere had an 
affair with a court lady, which resulted in her pregnancy. Queen 
Elizabeth, angered at this, had de Vere arrested and sent to the 
Tower of London. He was released after a few months; but a friend 
of the young woman, resentful of de Vere’s actions, attacked him, 
and de Vere was badly injured. Street brawls between the two 
families continued for a while, until the Queen threatened to jail 
them all unless the fighting stopped. (Reminds one of Romeo and 

After de Vere resumed living with his wife, they had five chil- 
dren together. Then Anne, still only thirty-two years old, died 
suddenly. Four years later de Vere remarried, and his second wife 
outlived him. 

Meanwhile, de Vere’s financial affairs—which had been in bad 
shape, due to his spendthrift habits—had improved radically. In 
1586, when de Vere was thirty-six years old, Queen Elizabeth 
granted him a lifetime pension in the extraordinary amount of 1,000 
pounds a year. That is equivalent to about $100,000 a year today, 
tax-free! A remarkable sum, especially considering that Elizabeth 
was notoriously tight-fisted with money! Curiously, the grant made 
no mention of any duties which de Vere must perform in return, 
nor of any past services for which he was being rewarded. The 

166 THE 100 

grant, however, was paid regularly for the rest of her life, and her 
successor (King James I) continued to pay it after her death in 

De Vere had always been intensely interested in poetry and 
the theatre, was friends with many literary figures, and as a young 
man is known to have written poetry and plays in his own name. 
(Those early plays have been lost, but several of the poems survive. 
Some of them are quite good, though well below the standard of 
the mature William Shakespeare.) However he did not publish any 
of them, due to the prevailing notion that it was discreditable for 
an aristocrat to write poetry for publication. (Such an attitude 
seems very peculiar nowadays; but historians agree that such an 
attitude was common at the time, and that the taboo was rarely 
violated. ) 

After the grant by Queen Elizabeth, though, de Vere never 
wrote another line in his own name. But within a few years, poems 
and plays started appearing by the invisible author “William Shake- 

Why did Elizabeth grant this extraordinarily generous pension 
to de Vere? Although no reason was ever stated, the obvious expla- 
nation is that she—like so many other monarchs before her—was 
patronizing a talented artist in the hopes that his achievements 
would glorify her reign. If that was her motive, she certainly got 
her money's worth. Indeed, no ruler before or since seems to have 
made a better choice! 

After being awarded the pension by the Queen, the formerly 
very active Edward de Vere retired completely from court life. 
Presumably, he spent the last eighteen years of his life writing 
and revising the great plays and poetry that have made “William 
Shakespeare” famous. He died in 1604, during an epidemic of the 
plague, and was buried near his country home at Hackney, near 
the village of Stratford. (There were two towns in England named 
Stratford; and at the time that one was larger than Stratford-on- 
Avon. ) 

Unlike Shakspere—or any of the other persons suggested as 
the author—Edward de Vere seems to fit perfectly the require- 
ments for the mysterious William Shakespeare. 

Edward de Vere 167 

He had an excellent education, had studied law, and was well- 
versed in foreign languages. (He certainly knew Latin and French, 
and possibly other languages as well.) 

He was an aristocrat, and had an insiders knowledge of court 
life and court intrigue. 

He had the large amount of free time necessary to compose 
the plays. 

He was repeatedly described by others as brilliant and tal- 

He had a lifelong interest in the theatre, and is known to have 
written poetry and plays in his own name when he was younger. 
Indeed, he was specifically named, during his lifetime, as one of 
those noblemen who had written poetry but (because of the taboo 
mentioned above) had not published it under his own name. More- 
over, he was praised as the most skillful and excellent of the gentle- 
men who had done so. (These descriptions are in documents 
surviving from that era.) 

The plays of William Shakespeare contain a large number of 
incidents and characters which can be clearly identified as relating 
to events, personalities, and situations in the life of Edward de 
Vere. (A few of them have been noted above, but there are many 

The only problem at all with accepting de Vere as the author 
of the plays is the question: Why did he keep his identity a secret? 
There are several possible explanations. 

1) There was a strong taboo at that time against noblemen 
writing poetry for publication, or plays for the commercial theatre. 

2) De Vere was known to be an insider at court. Since many 
of the plays dealt with court life, if he admitted authorship people 
would naturally (and probably correctly!) have assumed that vari- 
ous characters in the plays were intended as insulting parodies of 
various real people in court. Today, such writing is accepted: as 
commonplace and, though hardly friendly, not a cause for action. 
By the standards of those days, however, it would at least have been 
grounds for a lawsuit, and more likely for a duel. By hiding his 
identity, de Vere avoided such problems. 

3) Many of the sonnets of William Shakespeare are addressed 

168 THE 100 

to a female lover. His admission of authorship, therefore, would be 
embarrassing to his wife. 

4) Far worse, many of the other sonnets are addressed to a 
male, and have often been interpreted as showing that the author 
was homosexual or bisexual. Whether or not that interpretation is 
correct (and the majority of critics believe it is not), admitting that 
he was the author of the sonnets would have caused gossip that 
would have been very embarrassing to his family. 

Perhaps no one of these answers is entirely convincing by 
itself. Taken together, though, they might indeed be the full expla- 
nation for de Vere’s concealing his identity. However, it is certainly 
possible that he had additional reasons which we do not know of. 
(For example, it is possible that, as a condition of the pension 
granted him, Elizabeth had insisted that he follow the social 
norms—and avoid possible duels between her courtiers—by not 
publishing anything in his own name.) 

Whether or not we know the full explanation for de Vere’s 
concealing his authorship, he matches the requirements for Shake- 
speare perfectly in all other respects—and remember: nobody else 
even comes close! To me, it seems virtually certain that he is the 

One final question: How did Shakspere ever get to be consid- 
ered the author of the plays? That belief seems to have its origin 
in three references, each made a few years after Shakspere had 
died, and each somewhat ambiguous. Unless an unusual coinci- 
dence is postulated, it appears that someone (or ones) deliberately 
committed a hoax. Why was that done, and by whom? 

We cannot be certain of the answer to that question; but the 
most likely explanation is that the hoax was perpetrated by de 
Vere’s family when they decided (about 1620) to have his collected 
works published and chose to continue to keep his identity secret. 
Their motives were probably quite similar to his: fear of scandal 
(and perhaps other motives, such as a promise to the monarch). To 
make the deception more complete, they decided to present an- 
other person as the author. Shakspere was the obvious choice as 
the stand-in, because of the similarity of names. Also, since he had 

Edward de Vere 169 

been dead for several years he could not expose the fraud; and 
since he was little known in London, and even less remembered, 
there were very few others in town who would realize that the 
story was a hoax. 

The deception was probably fairly easy to carry out. Ben Jon- 
son, who provided a prefatory poem to the First Folio edition, was 
persuaded to include a couple of ambiguous lines that strongly 
hinted (without saying so directly, or telling any other flat-out lies) 
that the author came from Stratford-on-Avon. They also arranged 
for a monument to be erected there, near Shakspere’s grave, with 
an inscription which includes strong (though vague) words of 
praise. Since the identity of William Shakespeare had always been 
kept a secret, a few hints that he was the man from Stratford 
sufficed to get the story started. Nobody at the time was very 
interested in checking the story carefully. (There was much less 
interest in literary biography then than there is now.) By the time 
the first biography of Shakespeare was written (by William Rowe: 
1709) those who knew the truth had long been dead, and the myth 
of Shakspere’s authorship long accepted. 




John Dalton was the English scientist who, in the early nine- 
teenth century, introduced the atomic hypothesis into the main- 
stream of science. By so doing, he provided the key idea that 
made possible the enormous progress in chemistry since his day. 

To be sure, he was not the first person to suggest that all 
material objects are composed of vast numbers of exceedingly 
small, indestructible particles called atoms. That notion had 
been suggested by the ancient Greek philosopher, Democritus 
(460-370 B.c.?), and probably even earlier. The hypothesis was 
adopted by Epicurus (another Greek philosopher), and was 
brilliantly presented by the Roman writer, Lucretius (died: 55 
B.c.), in his famous poem De rerum natura (On the Nature of 

John Dalton 171 

Democritus’s theory (which had not been accepted by 
Aristotle) was neglected during the Middle Ages, and had little 
effect on modern science. Still, several leading scientists of the 
seventeenth century (including Isaac Newton) supported similar 
notions. But none of the earlier atomic theories were expressed 
quantitatively, nor were they used in scientific research. Most 
important, nobody saw the connection between the 
philosophical speculations about atoms and the hard facts of 

That was where Dalton came in. He presented a clear, 
quantitative theory, which could be used to interpret chemical 
experiments, and could be precisely tested in the laboratory. 

Though his terminology was slightly different from the one 
we use now, Dalton clearly expressed the concepts of atoms, 
molecules, elements, and chemical compounds. He made it 
clear that although the total number of atoms in the world is very 
large, the number of different types of atoms is rather small. (His 
original book listed twenty elements, or species of atoms; today, 
slightly over a hundred elements are known.) 

Though different types of atoms differ in weight, Dalton in- 
sisted that any two atoms of the same species are identical in all 
their properties, including mass. (Sophisticated modern experi- 
ments show that there are exceptions to this rule. For any given 
chemical element there exist two or more types of atoms—called 
isotopes—which differ slightly in mass, though their chemical 
properties are almost identical.) Dalton included in his book a table 
listing the relative weights of different kinds of atoms—the first 
such table ever prepared, and a key feature of any quantitative 
atomic theory. 

Dalton also stated clearly that any two molecules of the 
same chemical compound are composed of the same combination 
of atoms. (For example, each molecule of nitrous oxide consists of 
two atoms of nitrogen and one atom of oxygen.) From this it 
follows that a given chemical compound—no matter how it may 
be prepared, or where found—always contains the same 
elements in exactly the same proportion by weight. This is the 

172 THE 100 

“law of definite proportions,” which had been discovered ex- 
perimentally by Joseph Louis Proust a few years earlier. 

So convincingly did Dalton present his theory that within 
twenty years it was adopted by the majority of scientists. Fur- 
thermore, chemists followed the program that his book. sug- 
gested: determine exactly the relative atomic weights; analyze 
chemical compounds by weight; determine the exact combin- 
ation of atoms which constitutes each species of molecule. The 
success of that program has, of course, been overwhelming. 

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the atomic hypo- 
thesis. It is the central notion in our understanding of chemistry. 

2) Mercury ty 

: oe © 

Dalton’s table of atomic weights. 

John Dalton 173 

In addition, it is an indispensable prologue to much of modern 
physics. It is only because atomism had been so frequently 
discussed before Dalton that he does not appear even higher on 
this list. 

Dalton was born in 1766, in the village of Eaglesfield, in 
northern England. His formal schooling ended when he was only 
eleven years old, and he was almost entirely self-taught in 
science. He was a precocious young man, and when he was 
twelve years old he became a teacher himself. He was to be a 
teacher or private tutor for most of his remaining years. When he 
was fifteen, he moved to the town of Kendal, and when he was 
twenty-six he moved to Manchester, where he dwelled until his 
death in 1844. He never married. 

Dalton became interested in meteorology in 1787, when he 
was twenty-one years old. Six years later, he published a book on 
the subject. The study of air and the atmosphere aroused his in- 
terest in the properties of gases in general. By performing a series 
of experiments, he discovered two important laws governing the 
behavior of gases. The first, which Dalton presented in 1801, 
states that the volume occupied by a gas is proportional to its 
temperature. (It is generally known as Charles’s law, after the 
French scientist who had discovered it several years before 
Dalton, but who had failed to publish his results.) The second, 
also presented in 1801, is known as Dalton’s law of partial 

By 1804, Dalton had formulated his atomic theory and 
prepared a list of atomic weights. However, his principal book, A 
New System of Chemical Philosophy, did not come out till 1808. 
That book made him famous, and in later years, many honors 
were accorded him. 

Incidentally, Dalton suffered from a form of color blind- 
ness. Characteristically, the condition aroused his curiosity. He 
studied the subject and eventually published a scientific paper on 
color blindness—the first ever written on the topic! 



3.) 6 BG’ 3°23 B.C: 

Alexander the Great, the most celebrated conqueror of the an- 
cient world, was born in 356 B.c, in Pella, the capital city of 
Macedonia. His father, King Philip II of Macedon, was a man of 
truly outstanding ability and foresight. Philip enlarged and 
reorganized the Macedonian army, and converted it into a 
fighting force of the highest caliber. He first used this army to 
conquer surrounding regions to the north of Greece, and then 
turned south and conquered most of Greece itself. Next, Philip 
created a federation of the Greek city-states, with himself as 
leader. He was planning to make war on the vast Persian Empire 
to the east of Greece; indeed, the invasion had already commenc- 
ed, in 336 B.c, when Philip, still only forty-six years old, was 

Alexander the Great 175 

Alexander was only twenty years old when his father died, 
but he succeeded to the throne without difficulty. Philip had 
carefully prepared his son to succeed him, and the young Alex- 
ander already had considerable military experience. Nor had his 
father neglected his intellectual education. Alexander’s tutor had 
been the brilliant philosopher Aristotle, perhaps the greatest 
scientist and philosopher of the ancient world. 

In both Greece and the northern territories, the peoples con- 
quered by Philip saw the occasion of his death as a good op- 
portunity to throw off the Macedonian yoke. However, Alex- 
ander, in the two years following his accession to the throne, was 
able to subdue both regions. He then turned his attention to Per- 

For two hundred years, the Persians had governed a vast 
territory that stretched all the way from the Mediterranean to In- 
dia. Although Persia was no longer at the height of its powers, it 
was still a formidable adversary—the largest, mightiest, and 
wealthiest empire on Earth. 

Alexander launched his invasion of the Persian Empire in 
334 B.c. Since he had to leave part of his army at home to main- 
tain control of his European possessions, Alexander had only 
35,000 troops with him when he set out on his audacious 
quest—a very small force compared with the Persian armies. In 
spite of the numerical disadvantage, Alexander won a series of 
crushing victories over the Persian forces. There were three main 
reasons for his success. In the first place, the army which Philip 
had left him was better trained and organized than the Persian 
forces. In the second place, Alexander was a general of outstand- 
ing genius, perhaps the greatest of all time. The third factor was 
Alexander’s own personal courage. Although he would direct the 
early stages of each battle from behind the lines, Alexander’s 
policy was to lead the decisive cavalry charge himself. This was a 
risky procedure, and he was frequently wounded. But his troops 
saw that Alexander was sharing their danger, and was not asking 
them to take any risks that he himself would not take. The effect 
on their morale was enormous. 

176 THE 100 

Alexander first led his troops through Asia Minor, defeating 
the smaller Persian armies stationed there. Then, moving into 
northern Syria, he routed an immense Persian army at Issus. 
Alexander then moved further south, and after a difficult seven- 
month siege, conquered the Phoenician island-city of Tyre, in 
present-day Lebanon. While Alexander was besieging Tyre, he 
received a message from the Persian king offering to cede Alex- 
ander half of his empire in return for a peace treaty. One of Alex- 
ander’s generals, Parmenio, thought the offer rather good. “I 
would take that offer, if I were Alexander,” he said. “And so 
would I,” Alexander replied, “if I were Parmenio.” 

After the fall of Tyre, Alexander continued south. Gaza fell 
after a two-month siege. Egypt surrendered to him without a 
fight. Alexander then paused for a while in Egypt to rest his 
troops. There, though still only twenty-four years old, he was 
crowned pharaoh and declared a god. He then led his armies 
back into Asia, and at the decisive battle of Arbela, in 331 B.c., 
he completely routed a much larger Persian army. 

After that victory Alexander led his troops into Babylon, 
and into the Persian capitals of Susa and Persepolis. The Persian 
king, Darius III (not to be confused with his predecessor, Darius 
the Great), was assassinated by his officers in 330 B.c., to prevent 
him from surrendering to Alexander. Nevertheless, Alexander 
defeated and killed Darius’s successor, and in three years of 
fighting, subdued all of eastern Iran and pushed on into Central 

With the whole Persian Empire now subject to him, Alex- 
ander might now have returned home and reorganized his new 
dominions. But his thirst for conquest was still unslaked, and he 
continued on, into Afghanistan. From there he led his army 
across the Hindu Kush mountains into India. He won a series of 
victories in western India, and intended to continue on to eastern 
India. His troops, however, exhausted by years of fighting, refus- 
ed to go any farther, and Alexander reluctantly returned to Per- 

After returning to Persia, Alexander spent the next year or so 

Alexander the Great 177 

reorganizing his empire and army. And a major reorganization it 
was. Alexander had been brought up to believe that Greek 
culture represented the only true civilization, and that all of the 
non-Greek peoples were barbarians. Such, of course, was the 
prevailing view throughout the Greek world, and even Aristotle 
had shared it. But, despite the fact that he had thoroughly 
defeated the Persian armies, Alexander had come to realize that 
the Persians were not barbarians at all, and that individual Per- 
sians could be as intelligent, capable, and worthy of respect as in- 
dividual Greeks. He therefore conceived the notion of fusing the 
two parts of his empire together, thereby creating a joint Graeco- 
Persian culture and kingdom, with himself, of course, as ruler. 
So far as we can determine, he really intended the Persians to be 
equal partners with the Greeks and Macedonians. To implement 
this plan, he took large numbers of Persians into his army. He 

The Empire of Alexander the Great. 



cre AD » lexandria g 


Alexander's Empire 


seatprce Alexander's Line of March 
* ~=- Battles 

178 THE 100 

also held a great feast, “the marriage of East and West,” at 
which several thousand Macedonian troops were formally mar- 
ried to Asian women. He himself, although he had previously 
married an Asian princess, married the daughter of Darius. 

It is plain that Alexander intended to make additional con- 
quests with this reorganized army. We know that he planned to 
invade Arabia, and probably also the regions north of the Persian 
Empire. He may also have intended another invasion of India, or 
the conquest of Rome, Carthage, and the western Mediterra- 
nean. Whatever his plans may have been, as it turned out, there 
were to be no further conquests. In early June, in the year 323 
B.c., while in Babylon, Alexander suddenly fell ill of a fever, and 
- he died ten days later. He was not yet thirty-three years old. 

Alexander had named no successor, and soon after his death 
a fight for power ensued. In the struggle that followed, Alex- 
ander’s mother, wives, and children were all killed. His empire 
was eventually divided among his generals. 

Because Alexander died young and undefeated, there has 
been much speculation as to what might have occurred had he 
lived. If he had led his forces into an invasion of the western 
Mediterranean lands, he would most likely have been successful, 
and in that case, the entire history of western Europe might have 
been vastly different. But such speculations, however interesting, 
have little relevance to an assessment of Alexander’s actual in- 

Alexander was perhaps the most dramatic figure in history, 
and his career and personality have remained a source of fascina- 
tion. The true facts of his career are dramatic enough, and 
dozens of legends have grown up around his name. It was plainly 
his ambition to be the greatest warrior of all time, and he seems 
to deserve that title. As an individual fighter, he combined abili- 
ty and courage. As a general, he was supreme, and in eleven 
years of fighting, he never lost a single battle. 

At the same time, however, he was an intellectual who had 
‘studied under Aristotle and treasured the poetry of Homer. In- 
deed, in his realization that non-Greeks were not necessarily bar- 

Alexander on horseback, detail from “The Battle of 
Alexander,” mosaic at Pompei from the 2nd century, B.c. 

barians, he showed far more vision than most Greek thinkers of 
his day. In other ways, however, he was surprisingly short- 
sighted. Although he repeatedly risked his life in battle, he made 
no provisions for a successor, and his failure to do so was in large 
part responsible for the rapid breakup of his empire after his 

Alexander reputedly could be very charming, and he was 
often extremely conciliatory and charitable to defeated enemies. 


180 THE 100 

On the other hand, he was also an egomaniac with a ferocious 
temper. On one occasion, in a drunken argument, he killed a 
close associate of his, Cleitus, a man who had once saved his life. 

Like Napoleon and Hitler, Alexander had an overwhelming 
effect upon his own generation. His short-term influence, 
however, was less than theirs, simply because the limited means 
of travel and communication existing at the time restricted his in- 
fluence to a smaller portion of the globe. 

In the long run, the most important effect of Alexander’s 
conquests was to bring the Greek and Middle Eastern civiliza- 
tions into close contact with each other, and thereby to greatly 
enrich both cultures. During and immediately after Alexander’s 
career, Greek culture spread rapidly into Iran, Mesopotamia, 
Syria, Judea, and Egypt; before Alexander, Greek culture had 
been entering these regions only slowly. Also, Alexander spread 
Greek influence into India and Central Asia, areas which it had 
never reached before. But the cultural influence was by no 
means a one-way affair. During the Hellenistic Age (the cen- 
turies immediately following Alexander’s career), eastern ideas— 
particularly religious ideas—spread into the Greek world. It was 
this Hellenistic culture— predominantly Greek but with strong 
oriental influences—that eventually affected Rome. 

In the course of his career, Alexander founded more than 
twenty new cities. The most famous of these was Alexandria, in 
Egypt, which soon became one of the leading cities of the world, 
and a notable center of learning and culture. A few others, such 
as Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan, also developed into cities 
of importance. 

Alexander, Napoleon, and Hitler seem fairly close in overall 
influence. One gets the impression, though, that the influence of 
the other two men will be less enduring than that of Alexander. 
On that basis, he has been ranked slightly above them, even 
though his short-term influence was somewhat less than theirs. 


+f te: 



The celebrated French general and emperor, Napoleon I, was 
born in Ajaccio, Corsica, in 1769. His original name was 
Napoleone Buonaparte. France had acquired Corsica only some 
fifteen months before his birth, and in his early years, Napoleon 
was a Corsican nationalist who considered the French to be op- 
pressors. Nevertheless, Napoleon was sent to military academies 
in France, and when he graduated in 1785, at the age of sixteen, 
he became a second lieutenant in the French army. 


182 THE 100 

Four years later, the French Revolution erupted, and within 
a few years, the new French government was involved in wars 
with several foreign powers. Napoleon’s first opportunity to 
distinguish himself came in 1793, at the siege of Toulon (in which 
the French recaptured the city from the British), where he was in 
charge of the artillery. (By this time he had abandoned his Cor- 
sican nationalist ideas and considered himself a Frenchman.) His 
accomplishments at Toulon won him promotion to brigadier 
general, and in 1796, he was given the command of the French 
army in Italy. There, in 1796-97, Napoleon achieved a spec- 
tacular series of victories. A hero, he then returned to Paris. 

In 1798, Napoleon headed a French invasion of Egypt. The 
campaign was a disaster. On the land, Napoleon’s armies were 
generally successful. But the British navy, under the leadership 
of Lord Nelson, destroyed the French fleet, and in 1799 
Napoleon abandoned his army in Egypt and returned to France. 

Back in France, Napoleon found that the public 
remembered the successes of his Italian campaign rather than the 
debacle of the Egyptian expedition. Capitalizing on this, a 
month after his return, Napoleon took part in a coup d’ etat, 
together with the Abbé Siéyes and others. The coup resulted in a 
new government, the Consulate, with Napoleon holding the of- 
fice of first consul. Although an elaborate constitution was 
adopted, and was ratified by a popular plebiscite, it was only a 
mask for the military dictatorship of Napoleon, who had soon 
gained the ascendancy over the other conspirators. 

Napoleon’s rise to power was, thus, incredibly rapid. In 
August 1793, before the siege of Toulon, Napoleon had been a 
totally unknown twenty-four-year-old minor officer of not-quite 
French birth. Less than six years later, Napoleon, still only thir- 
ty, was the undisputed ruler of France—a position he was to hold 
for over fourteen years. 

During his years in power, Napoleon instituted major revi- 
sions in the administration of France and in the French legal 
system. For example, he reformed the financial structure and the 
judiciary; he created the Bank of France and the University of 


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Napoleon before the Sphinx (“LOedipe”’) by J. L. Gerome. 

France; and he centralized the French administration. Although 
each of these changes had a significant, and in some cases endur- 
ing, impact on France itself, they had little impact on the rest of 
the world. 

One of Napoleon’s reforms, however, was destined to have 
an impact far beyond the borders of France. That was the crea- 
tion of the French civil code, the famous Code Napoleon. In 
many ways the code embodied the ideals of the French Revolu- 
tion. For example, under the code there were no privileges of 
birth, and all men were equal under the law. At the same time, 
the code was sufficiently close to the older French laws and 

customs to be acceptable to the French public and the legal pro- 

fession.On the whole, the code was moderate, well organized, 

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184 THE 100 

and written with commendable brevity and outstanding lucidi- 
ty. As a result, the code has not only endured in France (the 
French civil code today is strikingly similar to the original Code 
Napoleon) but has been adopted, with local modifications, in 
many other countries. 

It was always Napoleon’s policy to insist that he was the 
defender of the Revolution. Nevertheless, in 1804 he had himself 
proclaimed Emperor of France. In addition, Napeoleon installed 
three of his brothers on the thrones of other European states. 
These actions doubtless aroused the resentment of some French 
republicans—who considered such behavior a complete betrayal 
of the ideals of the French Revolution—but Napoleon’s only 
serious difficulties were to result from his foreign wars. 

In 1802, at Amiens, Napoleon had signed a peace treaty 
with England, giving France a respite after more than a decade 
of almost continuous warfare. However, the following year the 
peace treaty broke down, and a long series of wars with England 
and her allies followed. Though Napoleon’s armies repeatedly 
won victories on the land, England could not be conquered 
unless her navy was defeated. Unfortunately for Napoleon, at the 
crucial battle of Trafalgar, in 1805, the English navy won an 
overwhelming victory; thereafter, England’s control of the seas 
was not seriously disputed. Although Napoleon’s greatest victory 
(at Austerlitz, against the armies of Austria and Russia) came on- 
ly six weeks after Trafalgar, it did not really compensate for the 
naval disaster. 

In 1808, Napoleon foolishly involved France in a long and 
pointless war on the Iberian peninsula, in which French armies 
were bogged down for years. Napoleon’s decisive blunder, 
however, was his Russian campaign. In 1807, Napoleon had met 
with the Czar, and in the Treaty of Tilsit, they had vowed eter- 
nal friendship. But the alliance gradually deteriorated, and in 
June 1812, Napoleon led his Grande Armee into Russia. 

The results are well known. The Russian army generally 
avoided fighting pitched battles against Napoleon, and he was 
able to advance rapidly. By September, he had occupied 

Napoleon Bonaparte 185 

Moscow. However, the Russians set fire to the city, and most of it 
was destroyed. After waiting five weeks in Moscow (in a vain 
hope that the Russians would sue for peace), Napoleon finally 
decided to retreat. But by then it was too late. The combination 
of the Russian army, the Russian winter, and the inadequate 
supplies of the French army soon turned the retreat into a rout. 
Less than 10 percent of the Grande Armée got out of Russia 

Other European countries, such as Austria and Prussia, 
realized that they now had an opportunity to throw off the 
French yoke. They joined forces against Napoleon, and at the 
battle of Leipzig, in October 1813, Napoleon suffered another 
crushing defeat. The following year he resigned and was banish- 
ed to Elba, a small island off the Italian coast. 

In 1815, he escaped from Elba and returned to France, 
where he was welcomed and restored to power. But the other 
European powers promptly declared war, and a hundred days 
after his restoration, he met his final defeat at Waterloo. After 
Waterloo, Napoleon was imprisoned by the British on St. 
Helena, a small island in the south Atlantic. He died there, of 
cancer, in 1821. 

Napoleon’s military career presents a surprising paradox. 
His genius at tactical maneuvering was dazzling, and if he were 
to be judged only by that, he might perhaps be considered the 
greatest general of all time, In the field of grand strategy, 
however, he was prone to making incredibly gross blunders, such 
as the invasions of Egypt and Russia. His strategic errors were so 
egregious that Napoleon should not be placed in the first rank of 
military leaders. Is this unfair second-guessing? I think not. Cer- 
tainly, one criterion of a general’s greatness is his ability to avoid 
disastrous errors. It is very hard to second-guess the very greatest 
generals, such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and 
Tamerlane, whose armies were never defeated. Because Napole- 
on was defeated in the end, all of his foreign conquests proved 
ephemeral. After his final defeat, in 1815, France possessed less 
territory than she had in 1789, at the outbreak of the Revolution. 

186 THE 100 

Napoleon was, of course, an egomaniac, and he has often 
been compared to Hitler. But there is a crucial difference be- 
tween the two men. Whereas Hitler was motivated in large part 
by a hideous ideology, Napoleon was merely an ambitious op- 
portunist, and he had no particular interest in perpetrating hor- 
rible massacres. Nothing in Napoleon’s regime remotely com- 
pares with the Nazi concentration camps. 

Napoleon’s very great fame makes it easy to overestimate his 
influence. His short-term influence was indeed enormous, pro- 
bably larger than Alexander the Great’s had been, though much 
less than Hitler’s. (It has been estimated that approximately 
500,000 French soldiers died during the Napoleonic Wars; 
however, in comparison, it has been estimated that 8,000,000 
Germans died during the Second World War.) By any standard, 
Napoleon’s activities disrupted far fewer of his contemporaries’ 
lives than did Hitler’s. 

In regard to long-term influence, Napoleon seems more im- 
portant than Hitler, though less so than Alexander. Napoleon 
made extensive administrative changes in France, but France 
comprises less than one-seventieth of the world’s population. In 
any event, such administrative changes should be viewed in pro- 
per prospective. They have had far less effect upon the lives of in- 
dividual Frenchmen than the numerous technological changes of 
the last two centuries. 

It has been said that the Napoleonic era provided time for 
the changes instituted during the French Revolutionary era to 
become established, and for the gains made by the French 
bourgeoisie to be consolidated. By 1815, when the French 
monarchy was finally re-established, these changes were so well 
entrenched that a return to the social patterns of the ancien 
régime was unthinkable. The most important changes, however, 
had been instituted before Napoleon; by 1799, when Napoleon 
took office, it was probably already too late for any return to the 
status quo ante. However, Napoleon, despite his own monar- 
chical ambitions, did play a role in spreading the ideals of the 
French Revolution throughout Europe. 

Napoleon also had a large, though indirect, effect on the 

Napoleon Bonaparte 187 

history of Latin America. His invasion of Spain so weakened the 
Spanish government that for a period of several years it lost effec- 
tive control of its colonies in Latin America. It was during this 
period of de facto autonomony that the Latin American in- 
dependence movements commenced. 

Of all Napoleon’s actions, however, the one that has perhaps 
had the most enduring and significant consequences was one that 
was almost irrelevant to his main plans. In 1803, Napoleon sold a 
vast tract of land to the United States. He realized that the 
French possessions in North America might be difficult to protect 
from British conquest, and besides he was short of cash. The 
Louisiana Purchase, perhaps the largest peaceful transfer of land 
in all of history, transformed the United States into a nation of 
near-continental size. It is difficult to say what the United States 
would have been like without the Louisiana Purchase; certainly 
it would have been a vastly different country than it is today. In- 
deed, it is doubtful whether the United States would have 
become a great power without the Louisiana Purchase. 

Napoleon, of course, was not solely responsible for the Loui- 
siana Purchase. The American government clearly played a role 
as well. But the French offer was such a bargain that it seems 
likely that any American government would have accepted it, 
while the decision of the French government to sell the Louisiana 
territory came about through the arbitrary judgment of a single 
individual, Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. 




The versatile inventor Thomas Alva Edison was born in 1847, in 
the town of Milan, Ohio. He had only three months of formal 
education, and his schoolmaster considered him to be retarded! 
Fdison created his first invention, an electric vote-recorder, 
when he was only twenty-one years old. It did not sell, and 
thereafter Edison concentrated on inventing objects that he ex- 
pected would be readily marketable. Not long after the vote- 
recorder, he invented an improved stock ticker system which he 
sold for forty thousand dollars, a tremendous sum in those days. 
A series of other inventions followed, and Edison was soon both 
wealthy and famous. Probably his most original invention was 

Thomas Edison 189 

the phonograph, which he patented in 1877. More important to 
the world, however, was his development of a practical in- 
candescent light bulb in 1879. 

Edison was not the first to invent an electrical lighting 
system. A few years earlier, electric arc lamps had been utilized 
for street lighting in Paris. But Edison’s bulb, together with the 
system of distributing electric power that he developed, made 
electric lighting practical for ordinary home use. In 1882, his 
company started producing electricity for homes in New York 
City, and thereafter the home use of electricity spread rapidly 
throughout the world, 

By setting up the first distribution company that carried 
electrical power into private homes, Edison laid the groundwork 
for the development of an enormous industry. It is, after all, not 
only the electric light which uses this power source today, but the 
whole array of home electrical appliances, from the TV set to the 
washing machine. Furthermore, the availability of electric 
power from the distribution network that Edison had established 
greatly stimulated the use of electricity by industry. 

Edison contributed enormously to the development of 
motion-picture cameras and projectors. He made important im- 
provements in the telephone (where his carbon transmitter mark- 
edly improved audibility), in the telegraph, and in the type- 
writer. Among his other inventions were a dictating machine, a 
mimeograph machine, and a storage battery. All told, Edison 
patented more than a thousand separate inventions—a truly in- 
credible total. 

One reason for Edison’s astonishing productivity is that ear- 
ly in his career he set up a research laboratory at Menlo Park, 
New Jersey, where he employed a group of capable assistants to 
help him. This was the prototype of the large research 
laboratories that so many industrial firms have since established. 
Edison’s origination of the modern, well-equipped research 
laboratory, where many persons work together as a team, was 
one of his most important inventions—though, of course, one 
which he could not patent. 

190 THE 100 

Edison was not merely an inventor; he also engaged in 
manufacturing and organized several industrial companies. The 
most important of these eventually became the General Electric 

Although not by temperament a pure scientist, Edison did 
make one significant scientific discovery. In 1882, he discovered 
that in a near-vacuum, an electric current could be made to flow 
between two wires that did not touch each other. This 
phenomenon, called the Edison effect, is not only of considerable 
theoretical interest, but has important practical applications as 
well. It led, in time, to the development of the vacuum tube and 
to the foundation of the electronics industry. 

For most of his life, Edison suffered from seriously impaired 
hearing. However, he more than compensated for that handicap 
by his astonishing capacity for hard work. Edison was married 
twice (his first wife died young) and had three children by each 
marriage. He died in West Orange, New Jersey, in 1931]. 

There is no dispute concerning Edison’s talent. Everyone 
agrees that he was the greatest inventive genius who ever lived. 
His parade of useful inventions is awe-inspiring, even though it is 
probable that most of them would have been developed by others 
within thirty years. However, if we consider his inventions in- 
dividually, we see that no one of them was of really critical im- 
portance. The incandescent light bulb, for example, although 
widely used, is not an irreplaceable part of modern life. In fact, 
fluorescent light bulbs, which operate on a completely different 
scientific principle, are also widely used, and our everyday life 
would not be much different if we had no incandescent bulbs at 
all. Indeed, before electric lights came into use, candles, oil 
lamps, and gaslights were generally regarded as reasonably 
satisfactory sources of light. 

The phonograph is certainly an ingenious device, but no one 
would claim that it has transformed our daily life to the extent 
that radio, television, or the telephone have. Futhermore, in re- 
cent years, quite different methods of recording sound have been 
developed, such as the magnetic tape recorder, and today it 

Thomas Edison 19] 

would make relatively little difference if there were no 
phonographs or record players at all. Many of Edison’s patents 
related to improvements of devices that other persons had 
already invented and that were already in quite usable form. 
Such improvements, although helpful, cannot be considered of 
major importance in the overall sweep of history. 

But although no single one of Edison’s inventions was of 
overwhelming importance, it is worth remembering that he did 
not invent just one device, but more than one thousand. It is for 
this reason that I have ranked Edison higher than such renowned 
inventors as Guglielmo Marconi and Alexander Graham Bell. 

Edison in his laboratory at Menlo Park. 




Antony van Leeuwenhoek, the man who discovered microbes, 
was born in 1632, in the town of Delft, in the Netherlands. He 
came from a middle-class family, and for most of his adult life 
held a minor post with the town government. 

Leeuwenhoek’s great discovery came about because he had 
taken up microscopy as a hobby. In those days, of course, one 
could not purchase microscopes in a store, and Leeuwenhoek 
constructed his own instruments. He was never a professional 
lens grinder, nor did he ever receive formal instruction in the 
field; but the skill he developed was truly remarkable, far ex- 
ceeding that of any of the professionals of his day. 

Antony Van Leeuwenhoek 193 

Although the compound microscope had been invented a 
generation before he was born, Leeuwenhoek did not make use 
of it. Instead, by very careful and accurate grinding of small 
lenses of very short focal length, Leeuwenhoek was able to attain 
a resolving power greater than that of any of the early compound 
microscopes. One of his surviving lenses has a magnifying power 
of about 270 times, and there are indications that he had made 
even more powerful ones. 

Leeuwenhoek was an extremely patient and careful 
observer, and he was possessed of keen eyesight and unbounded 
curiosity. With his minute lenses, he examined a wide variety of 
materials, from human hair to dog’s semen; from rain water to 
small insects; as well as muscle fibers, skin tissues, and many 
other specimens. He took careful notes, and he made meticulous 
drawings of the things he observed. 

From 1673 on, Leeuwenhoek was in correspondence with 
the Royal Society of England, the leading scientific society of his 
day. Despite his lack of advanced education (he had attended an 
elementary school, but knew no language except Dutch), he was 
elected a fellow of the society in 1680. He also became a cor- 
responding member of the Academy of Sciences in Paris. 

Leeuwenhoek married twice and had six children, but no 
grandchildren. He enjoyed good health, and was able to con- 
tinue working in his later years. Many dignitaries came to visit 
him, including both the Czar of Russia (Peter the Great) and the 
Queen of England. He died in 1723, in Delft, at the age of nine- 

Leeuwenhoek made many significant discoveries. He was 
the first person to describe spermatozoa (1677), and one of the 
earliest to describe red blood corpuscles. He opposed the theory 
of spontaneous generation of lower forms of life, and presented 
much evidence against it. He was able to show, for example, that 
fleas propagate in the usual manner of winged insects. 

His greatest discovery came in 1674, when he made the first 
observations of microbes. It was one of the great seminal 
discoveries in human history. Inside a small drop of water, 

194 THE 100 

Leeuwenhoek had discovered an entire new world, a totally un- 
suspected new world, teeming with life. And although he did not 
know it yet, this new world was of very great importance to 
human beings. Indeed, those “very little animalcules” that he 
had observed often held the power of life and death over 
humans. Once he had studied them, Leeuwenhoek was able to 
find microbes in many different places: in wells and ponds, in 
rain water, in the mouths and intestines of human beings. He 
described various types of bacteria, as well as protozoa, and 
calculated their sizes. 

Applications of Leeuwenhoek’s great discovery were not to 
come until the time of Pasteur, almost two centuries later. In 
fact, the entire subject of microbiology remained practically dor- 
mant until the nineteenth century, when improved microscopes 
were developed. One might therefore argue that had 
Leeuwenhoek never lived, and his discoveries not been made un- 
til the nineteenth century, it might have made little difference to 
the progress of science. However, there is no denying that 
Leeuwenhoek did discover microbes, and that it was through 
him that the scientific world actually became aware of their ex- 

Leeuwenhoek is sometimes regarded as a man who by sheer 
luck happened to stumble on an important scientific discovery. 
Nothing could be further from the truth. His discovery of 
microorganisms was a natural consequence of his careful con- 
struction of microscopes of unprecedented quality, and of his pa- 
tience and accuracy as an observer. In other words, his discovery 
resulted from a combination of skill and hard work—the very an- 
tithesis of mere luck. 

The discovery of microbes is one of the few really important 
scientific discoveries that is largely attributable to the work of a 
single person. Leeuwenhoek worked alone. His discovery of pro- 
tozoa and bacteria was unanticipated and—unlike most other 
advances in biology—was in no sense a natural outgrowth of 
previous biological knowledge. It is that factor, together with the 
importance of the eventual applications of his discovery, which 
account for his high place on this list. 



The name of William Thomas Green Morton may not ring a bell 
in the minds of most readers. He was, however, a far more in- 
fluential person than many more famous men, for Morton was 
the man principally responsible for the introduction of the use of 
anesthesia in surgery. 

Few inventions in all of history are so highly valued by in- 
dividual human beings as anesthetics, and few have made as pro- 
found a difference in the human condition. The grimness of 
surgery in the days when a patient had to be awake while a 
surgeon sawed through his bones is frightful to contemplate. The 
ability to put an end to this kind of pain is certainly one of the 
greatest gifts that any man ever gave to his fellows. 


196 THE 100 

Morton was born in 1819, in Charlton, Massachusetts. As a 
young man, he studied at the Baltimore College of Dental 
Surgery. In 1842, he began the practice of dentistry. For a while, 
in 1842 and 1843, he was the partner of Horace Wells, a slightly 
older dentist who was himself interested in anesthesia. It seems, 
however, that their partnership was not profitable, and it ended 
in late 1843. 

A year later, Wells began experimenting with nitrous oxide 
(“laughing gas’) as an anesthetic. He was able to use it effectively 
in his dental practice in Hartford, Connecticut. Unfortunately, 
however, a public demonstration that he attempted in Boston 
was unsuccessful, 

In his own dental practice, Morton specialized in fitting 
people for artificial teeth. To do this properly, it was necessary to 
extract the roots of the old teeth first. Such extraction, in the days 
before anesthesia, was extremely painful, and the desirability of 
some means of anesthesia was apparent. Morton correctly judged 
that nitrous oxide would not be sufficiently effective for his pur- 
poses, and he searched for a more powerful agent. 

Charles T. Jackson, a learned doctor and scientist whom 
Morton knew, suggested that he try using ether. That ether had 
anesthetic properties had been discovered more than three hun- 
dred years earlier by Paracelsus, a famous Swiss physician and 
alchemist; one or two similar reports had also been printed dur- 
ing the first part of the nineteenth century. But neither Jackson, 
nor any of the persons who had written about ether, had ever 
used the chemical in a surgical operation. 

Ether sounded like a promising possibility to Morton, and 
he experimented with it, first on animals (including his pet dog) 
and then on himself. Finally, on September 30, 1846, a perfect 
opportunity arose for testing ether on a patient. A man named 
Eben Frost walked into Morton’s office with a terrible toothache 
and a willingness to try anything which might relieve the pain of 
the necessary extraction. Morton administered ether to him and 
then pulled his tooth. When Frost regained consciousness, he 
reported that he had felt no pain. A better result could hardly 

William T. G. Morton 197 

have been hoped for, and Morton could see success, fame, and 
fortune in front of him. 

Although the operation had been witnessed, and was 
reported in Boston newspapers the next day, it did not attract 
widespread attention. Clearly, a more dramatic demonstration 
was needed. Morton therefore asked Dr. John C. Warren, senior 
surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, for an 
opportunity to give a practical demonstration—before a group of 
doctors—of his method of preventing pain. Dr. Warren agreed, 
and a demonstration was scheduled at the hospital. There, on 
October 16, 1846, before a considerable audience of doctors and 
medical students, Morton administered ether to a surgical 
patient, Gilbert Abbott; Dr. Warren then removed a tumor from 
Abbott’s neck. The anesthetic proved completely effective, and 
the demonstration was an overwhelming success. That 
demonstration, which was promptly reported in many 
newspapers, was directly responsible for the widespread use of 
anesthetics in surgical operations over the course of the next few 

Several days after the operation on Abbott, an application 
for a patent was filed by Morton and Jackson. Although a patent 
was granted to them the following month, it did not prevent a 
series of priority fights from arising. Morton’s claim that he was 
entitled to most of the credit for the introduction of anesthesia 
was contested by a few other persons, particularly by Jackson. 
Furthermore, Morton’s expectation that his innovation would 
make him rich was not fulfilled. Most doctors and hospitals who 
made use of ether did not bother to pay any royalties. The costs 
of litigation and of his struggle for priority soon exceeded the 
money that Morton received for his invention. Frustrated and 
impoverished, he died in 1868, in New York City. He was not 
quite forty-nine years old. | 

The usefulness of anesthesia in dentistry and in major 
surgery is obvious. In estimating Morton’s overall importance, 
therefore, the main difficulty is in deciding to what extent credit 
for the introduction of anesthesia should be divided between 

198 THE 100 

Morton and the various other men involved. The principal other 
persons to be considered are: Horace Wells, Charles Jackson, and 
Crawford W. Long, a Georgia doctor. On considering the facts, 
it appears to me that Morton’s contribution was far more impor- 
tant that any of the others’, and I have ranked him accordingly. 
It is true enough that Horace Wells had started using 
anesthesia in his dental practice almost two years before Mor- 
ton’s successful use of ether. But the anesthetic that Wells used, 
nitrous oxide, did not and could not have revolutionized surgery. 
Despite some desirable qualities, nitrous oxide is simply not a 
powerful enough anesthetic to be used alone in major surgery. (It 
is useful today when employed in a sophisticated combination 
with other drugs, and also in some dental work.) Ether, on the 
other hand, is an amazingly effective and versatile chemical, and 
its use revolutionized surgery. In most individual cases today, a 

Morton anesthetizes a patient. 

William T. G. Morton 199 

more desirable drug, or combination of drugs, than ether can be 
found; but for roughly a century after its introduction, ether was 
the anesthetic most usually employed. Despite its disadvantages 
(it is inflammable, and nausea is a common after-effect of its 
use), it is still perhaps the most versatile single anesthetic ever 
discovered. It is easy to transport and to administer; and, most 
important of all, combines safety and potency. 

Crawford W. Long (born 1815, died 1878) was a Georgian 
doctor who had used ether in surgical operations as early as 1842, 
which was four years before Morton’s demonstration. However, 
Long did not publish his results until 1849, which was long after 
Morton’s demonstration had made the usefulness of ether in 
surgery well known to the medical world. As a result, Long’s 
work benefited only a handful of patients, whereas Morton’s 
work benefited the world at large. 

Charles Jackson suggested the use of ether to Morton, and he 
also gave Morton helpful advice on how to administer ether to 
patients. On the other hand, Jackson himself never made any 
significant use of ether in a surgical operation; nor, prior to Mor- 
ton’s successful demonstration, did Jackson make any attempt to 
inform the medical world of what he did know about ether. It 
was Morton, not Jackson, who risked his reputation by making a 
public demonstration. If Gilbert Abbott had died on the 
operating table, it seems exceedingly unlikely that Charles T. 
Jackson would have claimed any responsibility for the 

Where does William Morton belong on this list? An apt 
comparison could be made between Morton and Joseph Lister. 
Both were medical men; both are famous for introducing a new 
technique or procedure that revolutionized surgery and 
childbearing; both of the innovations seem, in hindsight, to have 
been fairly obvious; neither man was actually the first to employ 
the technique or procedure which was publicized and popular- 
ized through his efforts; and each must share the credit for his in- 
novation with others. I have ranked Morton higher than Lister 
principally because I believe that in the long run the introduction 

200 THE 100 

of anesthesia was a more important development than the introduc- 
tion of antiseptic surgery. After all, to some extent, modern antibi- 
otics can substitute for the lack of antiseptic measures during 
surgery. Without anesthesia, delicate or prolonged operations were 
not feasible, and even simple operations were often avoided until 
it was too late for them to be of help. 

The public demonstration of a practical means of anesthesia 
that Morton gave on that October morning in 1846 is one of the 
great dividing points in human history. Perhaps nothing sums up 
Morton’s achievement better than the inscription on his monu- 

William T. G. Morton 
Inventor and revealer of anesthetic inhalation, 
By whom pain in surgery was averted and annulled; 
Before whom surgery was at all times agony, 
Since whom science has control of pain. 

With this glass container, Morton first administered 
sulphuric ether to a patient in 1846. 



Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radio, was born in 
Bologna, Italy, in 1874. His family was quite well-to-do, and he 
was educated by private tutors. In 1894, when he was twenty 
years old, Marconi read of the experiments that Heinrich Hertz 
had performed a few years earlier. Those experiments had clear- 
ly demonstrated the existence of invisible electromagnetic waves, 
which move through the air with the speed of light. 

Marconi was immediately fired by the idea that these waves 
could be used to send signals across great distances without 
wires. This would provide many possibilities of communication 
that were not possible with the telegraph. For example, by this 
method messages might be sent to ships at sea. 

By 1895, after only a year’s work, Marconi succeeded in pro- 


202 THE 100 

ducing a working device. In 1896, he demonstrated his device in 
England, and received his first patent on the invention. Marconi 
soon formed a company, and the first “Marconigrams” were sent 
in 1898. The following year, he was able to send wireless 
messages across the English Channel. Although his most impor- 
tant patent was granted in 1900, Marconi continued to make and 
patent many improvements on his invention. In 1901, he suc- 
ceeded in sending a radio message across the Atlantic Ocean, 
from England to Newfoundland. . 

The importance of the new invention was dramatically 
illustrated in 1909, when the S.S. Republic was damaged in a 
collision and sank at sea. Radio messages brought help, and all 
but six persons were rescued. That same year, Marconi won a 
Nobel Prize for his invention. The following year, he succeeded 
in transmitting radio messages from Ireland to Argentina, a 
distance of over six thousand miles. 

All these messages, by the way, were sent in the dot-and- 
dash system of Morse code. It was known that the voice could 
also be transmitted by radio, but this was not done until 1906. 


tS eee @ | | fe 

va oy © 

Marconi in his floating laboratory, the yacht “Elettra.” 

Radio broadcasting on a commercial scale only began in the early 
1920s, but then its popularity and importance grew very quickly. 

An invention to which the patent rights were so extremely 
valuable was certain to stimulate legal disputes. However, this 
litigation died out after 1914, when the courts recognized Mar- 
coni’s clear priority. In his later years, Marconi did significant 
research in shortwave and microwave communication. He died 
in Rome, in 1937. . 

Since Marconi is famous only as an inventor, it is clear that 
his influence is proportional to the importance of radio and its 


204 THE 100 

direct offshoots. (Marconi did not invent television. However, 
the invention of radio was a very important precursor of tele- 
vision, and it therefore seems just to give Marconi part of the 
credit for the development of television as well.) Obviously, 
wireless communication is enormously important in the modern 
world. It is used for the transmission of news, for entertainment, 
for military purposes, for scientific research, and in police work, 
as well as for other purposes. Although for some purposes the 
telegraph (which had been invented more than half a century 
earlier) would serve almost as well, for a large number of uses the 
radio is irreplaceable. It can reach automobiles, ships at sea, 
airplanes in flight, and even spacecraft. It is plainly a more im- 
portant invention than the telephone, since a message sent by 
telephone might be sent by radio instead, whereas radio messages 
can be sent to places that cannot be reached by telephone. 

Marconi has been ranked higher on this list than Alexander 
Graham Bell, simply because wireless communication is a more 
important invention than the telephone. I have ranked Edison 
slightly above Marconi because of the vast number of his inven- 
tions, even though no one of them is nearly as important as the 
radio. Since radio and television are only a small part of the prac- 
tical applications of the theoretical work of Michael Faraday and 
James Clerk Maxwell, it seems fair that Marconi should be rank- 
ed considerably below those two men. It seems equally clear that 
only a handful of the most important political figures have had as 
much influence on the world as Marconi has had, and therefore, 
he is entitled to a fairly high place on this list. 




I must confess that it is with a feeling of disgust that I include 
Adolf Hitler in this book. His influence was almost entirely per- 
nicious, and I have no desire to honor a man whose chief im- 
portance lies in his having caused the deaths of some thirty-five 
million people. However, there is no getting away from the fact 
that Hitler had an enormous influence upon the lives of a very 
great number of persons. 

Adolf Hitler was born in 1889, in Braunau, Austria. As a 
young man, he was an unsuccessful artist, and sometime during 
his youth he became an ardent German nationalist. During 


206 THE 100 

World War I, he served in the German army, was wounded, and 
received two medals for bravery. 

Germany’s defeat left him shocked and angered. In 1919, 
when he was thirty, he joind a tiny, right-wing party in Munich, 
which soon changed its name to the National Socialist German 
Workers’ Party (the Nazi party, for short). Within two years he 
had become its undisputed leader (in German: Fuehrer). 

Under Hitler’s leadership, the Nazi party rapidly increased 
in strength, and in November 1923, it attempted a coup d’etat 
known as “the Munich Beer Hall Putsch.” When the putsch 
failed, Hitler was arrested, tried for treason, and convicted. 
However, he was released from jail after serving less than one 
year of his sentence. 

In 1928, the Nazi party was still small. However, the advent 
of the Great Depression caused a general public disaffection with 
the established German political parties. The Nazis rapidly gain- 
ed strength, and in January 1933, at the age of fourty-four, 
Hitler became chancellor of Germany. 

Upon becoming chancellor, Hitler rapidly aiabiehed a dic- 
tatorship by using the government apparatus to crush all oppo- 
sition. It should not be thought that this process consisted of a 
gradual erosion of civil liberties and the rights of criminal defen- 
dants. It was accomplished very quickly, and the Nazis frequent- 
ly did not bother with trials at all. Many political opponents 
were beaten up, or simply murdered outright. Still, in the 
pre-war years, Hitler gained the genuine support. of most Ger- 
mans, because he was able to reduce unemployment and gener- 
ate economic recovery. 

Hitler then set Germany on a path of conquest that was to 
produce World War II. He achieved his first territorial gains 
without actually going to war. England and France, beset with 
their own economic problems, so desperately desired peace that 
they did not intervene when Hitler violated the Treaty of Ver- 
sailles by building up the German army, nor when his troops oc- 
cupied and fortified the Rhineland (March 1936), nor when he 
forcibly annexed Austria (March 1938). They even acquiesced 

Adolf Hitler | 207 

(September 1938) to his annexation of the Sudetenland, the well- 
fortified border region of Czechoslovakia. An_ inter- 
national agreement known as the Munich Pact, which the British 
and French hoped would buy “peace in our time,” left 
Czechoslovakia helpless, and Hitler took over the rest of that 
country a few months later. At each stage, Hitler cleverly com- 
bined arguments justifying his actions with the threat that he 
would go to war if his desires were thwarted, and at each stage, 
the Western democracies timidly backed down. 

England and France, however, were determined to defend 
Poland, Hitler’s next target. Hitler first protected himself by 
signing, in August 1939, a “non-aggression” pact with Stalin (ac- 
tually an offensive alliance, in which the two dictators agreed on 
how to divide Poland between them). Nine days later, Germany 
attacked Poland, and sixteen days after that, the Soviet Union 
did also. Though England and France declared war on Ger- 
many, Poland was quickly defeated. 

Hitler’s greatest year was 1940. In April, his armies gobbled 
up Denmark and Norway. In May, they overran Holland, 
Belgium, and Luxembourg. In June, France capitulated. But 
later that year, the British withstood a long series of attacks by 
the German air force—the celebrated “Battle of Britain” —and 
Hitler was never able to launch an invasion of England. 

Hitler’s armies conquered Greece and Yugoslavia in April 
1941. In June 1941, Hitler tore up his non-aggression pact with 
the Russians and attacked them, too. His armies conquered enor- 
mous stretches of Soviet territory, but were unable to eliminate 
the Russian armies before winter. Though already fighting both 
England and Russia, Hitler nevertheless declared war on the 
United States in December 1941, a few days after the Japanese 
had attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor. 

By the middle of 1942, Germany ruled a larger portion of 
Europe than had ever been controlled by any nation in history; 
in addition, she ruled much of North Africa. The turning point of 
the war came in the last half of 1942, when Germany lost the 
crucial battles of E] Alamein in Egypt and Stalingrad in Russia. 

208 THE 100 

After those setbacks, German military fortunes declined steadily. 
But although Germany’s eventual defeat should now have seem- 
ed inevitable, Hitler refused to give up. Despite fearful casual- 
ties, Germany continued fighting for more than two years after 
Stalingrad. The bitter end came in the spring of 1945. Hitler 
committed suicide in Berlin on April 30; seven days later, Ger- 
many surrendered. 

During his years in power, Hitler engaged in a policy of 
genocide without parallel in history. He was a fanatical racist, 
with a particularly virulent animosity toward the Jews. He made 
it his specific, publicly-stated goal to kill every Jew in the world. 
During his regime, the Nazis constructed large extermination 
camps, equipped with massive gas chambers for this purpose. In 
every territory that came under his control, innocent men, 
women, and children were rounded up and shipped off in cattle 
cars to be killed in those chambers. In the space of just a few 
years, almost 6,000,000 Jews died in this way. 

The Jews were not Hitler’s only victims. During his regime, 
staggering numbers of Russians and gypsies were also massacred, 
as well as many others who were deemed to be either racially in- 
ferior or enemies of the state. It should never be imagined that 
these murders were spontaneous acts, performed in the heat and 
passion of battle: Hitler’s death camps were organized as careful- 
ly as a great business enterprise. Records were kept, quotas set, 
and the bodies of the dead systematically searched for such 
valuables as gold tooth fillings and wedding rings. The bodies of 
many of the victims were also utilized for the manufacture of 
soap. So intent upon this program of murder was Hitler, that 
even late in the war, when Germany was short of fuel for 
domestic and military use, the cattle cars were kept rolling to the 
death camps on their grisly—but militarily useless— mission. 

For several reasons, it seems obvious that Hitler’s fame will 
last. In the first place, he is widely considered to be the most evil 
man in all of history. If men like Nero and Caligula, whose 
misdeeds were small in comparison with Hitler’s, have remained 
well-known for twenty centuries as symbols of cruelty, it seems 

Scene at Buchenwald. 

safe to predict that Hitler, whose reputation as the most evil per- 
son in history is uncontested, will remain famous for many, 
many centuries. In addition, of course, Hitler will be remem- 
bered as the principal instigator of World War II, the largest war 
the world has yet seen. The advent of nuclear weapons makes it 
very unlikely that there will be many such large-scale wars in the 
future. Therefore, even two or three thousand years from now, 
World War II will probably be considered a major event in 

Furthermore, Hitler will remain famous because his entire 

story is so bizarre and so interesting. That a foreigner (Hitler was 

born in Austria, not Germany) without political experience, 
money, or political connections could, in a period of less than 


210 THE 100 

fourteen years, become the head of a major world power, is truly 
amazing. His ability as an orator was extraordinary. Judged by 
his ability to move people to significant action, it is likely that 
Hitler was the most effective orator in all of history. Finally, the 
fiendish uses to which he put his power, once he had attained it, 
will not soon be forgotten. 

It is probable that no figure in history has had more in- 
fluence upon his own generation than Adolf Hitler. In ad- 
dition to the tens of millions of people who died in the war that 
he instigated, or in the Nazi concentration camps, there were 
millions more who were made homeless or whose lives were en- 
tirely disrupted as a result of the fighting. 

Any estimate of Hitler’s influence must take into consider- 
ation two other factors. First, much of what actually occurred 
under his leadership would probably not have occurred at all had 
it not been for Hitler. (In this respect, he stands in sharp contrast 
to such persons as, say, Charles Darwin or Simon Bolivar.) It is 
true, of course, that the situation in Germany and in Europe pro- 
vided Hitler with an opportunity. His militaristic and anti- 
Semitic remarks, for example, certainly struck a responsive chord 
in many of his listeners. There is no sign, however, that most 
Germans in the 1920s or 1930s either wanted or intended their 
government to follow a policy nearly as extreme as Hitler’s 
proved, and there is little indication that other potential German 
leaders would have done the same thing. Nor, in fact, were the 
actual events of the Hitler era even approximately predicted by 
any outside observer. 

Second, the entire Nazi movement was dominated by a 
single leader to an extraordinary degree. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, 
and others all played major roles in the rise of Communism. But 
National Socialism had no significant leader before Hitler, and 
none after him. He led the Nazis to power, and maintained his 
leadership throughout their period in power. When he died, the 
Nazi party and the government it headed died with him. 

But though Hitler’s influence on his own generation was so 
enormous, the effects of his actions upon future ages seem to be 

Nazi soldiers, 1933. 

rather slight. Hitler totally failed to accomplish any of his major 
goals, and what little effect he appears to have had on later 
generations seems to be in the opposite direction from what he 
intended. For example, Hitler was interested in expanding Ger- 
man influence and territory. But his territorial conquests, 
although very large, were ephemeral, and today Germany has less 
territory than it did when Hitler took office. It was Hitler's consum- 


212 THE 100 

ing passion to destroy the Jews; but fifteen years after Hitler took 
office, an independent Jewish state came into existence for the first 
time in 2,000 years. Hitler hated both Communism and Russia. 
However, at his death, and partly as a result of the war he started, 
the Russians were able to extend their control over a large part of 
eastern Europe, and Communist influence in the world was greatly 
expanded. Hitler despised democracy and hoped to destroy it, not 
just in other nations, but in Germany, too. Nevertheless, Germany 
is a functioning democracy today, and her citizens appear to have 
far less tolerance for authoritarian rule than any generation of Ger- 
mans before Hitler's time ever had. 

What does this strange combination of enormous influence 
in his own day and relatively little influence on future gener- 
ations add up to? Hitler’s effect upon the world of his day was so 
enormous that it is obvious that he must be ranked fairly high on 
this list. But he surely must be placed well behind such figures as 
Shih Huang Ti, Augustus Caesar, and Genghis Khan, whose ac- 
tions influenced the world for centuries after they lived. The 
closest parallels are with Napoleon and Alexander the Great. In 
the short run, Hitler disturbed the world even more than those 
two men did; he has been ranked slightly below them because of 
their greater long-term influence. 


427 B.c.-347 B.C. 

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato represents the starting point 
of Western political philosophy, and of much of our ethical and 
metaphysical thought as well. His speculations on these subjects 
have been read and studied for over 2,300 years. Plato stands, 
therefore, as one of the great fathers of Western thought. 

Plato was born into a distinguished Athenian family, in 
about 427 B.c. As a young man, he made the acquaintance of the 
noted philosopher Socrates, who became his friend and mentor. 
In 399 B.c., Socrates, then seventy years old, was tried on rather 
vague charges of impiety and of corrupting the youth of Athens. 
Socrates was condemned, sentenced to death, and executed. The 
execution of Socrates—whom Plato calls “the wisest, the justest, 
and the best of all the men whom I have ever known’ —left Plato 
with an enduring distaste for democratic government. 

Not long after the death of Socrates, Plato left Athens and 
spent the next ten or twelve years in foreign travel. About 387 


214 THE 100 

B.c., he returned to Athens and founded a school there, the 
Academy, which continued in operation for over nine hundred 
years, Plato spent most of his remaining forty years in Athens, 
teaching and writing philosophy. His most famous pupil was 
Aristotle, who came to the Academy when he was seventeen 
years old and Plato sixty. Plato died in 347 b.c., at the age of 

Plato wrote thirty-six books, mostly on political and ethical 
questions, but also on metaphysics and theology. Obviously, it is 
not possible to summarize these works in a few short sentences. 
However, at the risk of oversimplifying his thought, I will try to 
summarize the main political ideas expressed in Plato’s most 
famous book, The Republic, which represents his concept of an 
ideal society. 

The best form of government, Plato suggests, is an 
aristocracy. By this he means not an hereditary aristocracy, or a 
monarchy, but an aristocracy of merit—that is, rule by the best 
and wisest persons in the state. These persons should be chosen 
not by a vote of the citizens, but by a process of co-optation. The 
persons who are already members of the ruling, or guardian class 
should admit additional persons to their ranks purely on the basis 
of merit. 

Plato believed that all persons, both male and female, 
should be given the chance to demonstrate their fitness to be 
members of the guardian class. (Plato was the first major 
philosopher, and for a long time virtually the only one, to suggest 
the basic equality of the sexes.) To insure equality of opportun- 
ity, Plato advocated the rearing and education of all children by 
the state. Children should first receive a thorough physical train- 
ing; but music, mathematics, and other academic disciplines 
should not be neglected. At several stages, extensive examin- 
ations should be given. The less successful persons should be 
assigned to engage in the economic activity of the community, 
while the more successful persons should continue to receive fur- 
ther training. This additional education should include not only 
the normal academic subjects, but also the study of “philoso- 

Plato 215 

phy,” by which Plato means the study of his metaphysical doc- 
trine of ideal forms. 

At age thirty-five, those persons who have convincingly 
demonstrated their mastery of theoretical principles are to 
receive an additional fifteen years of training, which should con- 
sist of practical working experience. Only those persons who 
show that they can apply their book learning to the real world 
should be admitted into the guardian class. Moreover, only those 
persons who clearly demonstrate that they are primarily in- 
terested in the public welfare are to become guardians. 

Membership in the guardian class would not appeal to all 
persons. The guardians are not to be wealthy. They should be 
permitted only a minimal amount of personal property, and no 
land or private homes. They are to receive a fixed (and not very 
large) salary, and may not own either gold or silver. Members of 
the guardian class should not be permitted to have separate 
families, but are to eat together, and are to have mates in com- 
mon. The compensation of these philosopher-kings should not be 
material wealth, but rather the satisfaction of public service. 
Such, in brief, was Plato’s view of the ideal republic. 

The Republic has been widely read for many centuries. It 
should be noted, however, that the political system advocated 
therein has not been used as the model for any actual civil 
government. During most of the interval between Plato’s day 
and our own, most European states have been governed by 
hereditary monarchies. In recent centuries, several states have 
adopted democratic forms of government; there have also been 
instances of military rule, or of demagogic tyrannies, such as 
those of Hitler and Mussolini. None of those forms of government 
is similar to Plato’s ideal republic. Plato’s theories have never 
been adopted by any political party, nor have they formed the 
basis of a political movement in the way that the theories of Karl 
Marx have. Should we therefore conclude that Plato’s works, 
though spoken of with respect, have been completely ignored in 
practice? I think not. 

It is true that no civil government in Europe has been pat- 

216 THE 100 

terned directly on Plato’s model; nevertheless, there is a striking 
similarity between the position of the Catholic Church in 
medieval Europe and that of Plato’s guardian class. The 
medieval Church consisted of a self-perpetuating elite, whose 
members had all received training in an offical philosophy. In 
principle, all males, regardless of family background, were eligi- 
ble to enter the priesthood (although females were excluded). In 
principle, too, the clergy had no families, and it was intended 
that they should be motivated primarily by concern for their 
flock, rather than by a desire for self-aggrandizement. 

Plato’s ideas have also influenced the structure of the United 
States government. Many members of the American Constitu- 
tional Convention were familiar with Plato’s political ideas. It 
was intended, of course, that the United States Constitution 
would provide a means of discovering and giving effect to the 
popular will. But it was also intended as a means for selecting the 
wisest and best persons to govern the nation. 

The difficulty in assessing Plato’s importance is that his in- 
fluence through the ages, while broad and pervasive, has been 
subtle and indirect. In addition to his political theories, his 
discussions of ethics and metaphysics have influenced many 
subsequent philosophers. If Plato has been ranked considerably 
lower than Aristotle on the present list, it is principally because 
Aristotle was an important scientist as well as a philosopher. On 
the other hand, Plato has been ranked higher than such thinkers 
as Thomas Jefferson and Voltaire, because their political writings 
have so far affected the world for only two or three centuries, while 
the influence of Plato has endured for over twenty-three centuries. 



Oliver Cromwell, the brilliant and inspiring military leader who 
led the Parliamentary forces to victory in the English Civil War, 
is the man most responsible for the eventual establishment of 
parliamentary democracy as the English form of government. 
Cromwell was born in 1599, in Huntingdon, England. As a 
young man, he lived in an England torn by religious dissensions 
and governed by a king who believed in and wished to practice 


218 THE 100 

absolute monarchy. Cromwell himself was a farmer and a coun- 
try gentleman, and a devout Puritan. In 1628, he was elected to 
Parliament; but he served only briefly, because the following 
year King Charles I decided to dismiss Parliament and govern the 
country alone. Not until 1640, when he was in need of money to 
prosecute a war against the Scots, did the king call a new Parlia- 
ment. This new Parliament, of which Cromwell was also a 
member, demanded assurances and protections against a re- 
sumption of arbitrary rule by the king. But Charles I was unwill- 
ing to be subservient to Parliament, and in 1642, war broke out 
between forces loyal to the king and those loyal to Parliament. 

Cromwell chose the parliamentary side. Returning to Hun- 
tingdon, he raised a cavalry troop to fight against the king. Dur- 
ing the four-year duration of the war, his remarkable military 
ability won increasing recognition. Cromwell played the leading 
role at both the critical Battle of Marston Moor (July 2, 1644), 
which was the turning point of the war, and at the decisive Bat- 
tle of Naseby (June 14, 1645). In 1646, the war ended with 
Charles I a prisoner, and with Cromwell recognized as the most 
successful general on the parliamentary side. 

But peace did not come, because the parliamentary side was 
divided into factions whose goals differed substantially, and 
because the king, knowing this, avoided a settlement. Within a 
year, asecond civil war had begun, precipitated by the escape of 
King Charles and his attempt to rally his forces. The outcome of 
this renewed conflict was the defeat of the king’s forces by 
Cromwell, the elimination of the more moderate members from 
Parliament, and the execution of the king in January 1649. 

England now became a republic (called the Com- 
monwealth), ruled temporarily by a Council of State, of which 
Cromwell was chairman. But royalists soon gained control in 
Ireland and Scotland, and gave their support to the dead king’s 
son, the future Charles II. The result was the successful invasion 
of both Ireland and Scotland by Cromwell’s armies. The long 
series of wars finally ended in 1652 with the complete defeat of 
the royalist forces. 

Oliver Cromwell 219 

Now that the fighting had ended, it was time for the 
establishment of a new government. There remained, however, 
the problem of the constitutional form that government should 
take. This problem was never to be solved during Cromwell’s 
lifetime. The Puritan general had been able to lead to victory the 
forces that opposed absolute monarchy; but neither his power 
nor his prestige were sufficient to resolve the social conflicts of his 
supporters and enable them to agree on a new constitution, for 
these conflicts were intricately interwoven with the religious con- 
flicts that divided Protestants from each other, as well as from 
Roman Catholics. 

When Cromwell came to power, all that remained of the 
Parliament of 1640 was a small, unrepresentative, extremist 
minority, the so-called Rump. At first, Cromwell tried to 
negotiate for the holding of new elections. When the negotiations 
broke down, however, he dissolved the Rump by force (April 20, 
1653). From then until Cromwell’s death in 1658, three different 
Parliaments were formed and disbanded. Two different constitu- 
tions were adopted, but neither functioned successfully. 
Throughout this period, Cromwell ruled with the support of the 
army. In effect, he was a military dictator. However, his 
repeated attempts to institute democratic practices, as well as his 
refusal of the throne when it was offered to him, indicate that 
dictatorship was not what he sought; it was forced upon him by 
the inability of his supporters to establish a workable govern- 

From 1653 to 1658, Cromwell, under the title of Lord Pro- 
tector, ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland. During those five 
years, Cromwell provided Britain with a generally good govern- 
ment and an orderly administration. He ameliorated various 
harsh laws, and he supported education. Cromwell was a 
believer in religious toleration, and he permitted the Jews to 
resettle in England and to practice their religion there. (They 
had been expelled from England more than three centuries 
earlier by King Edward I.) Cromwell also conducted a successful 
foreign policy. He died in London, in 1658, of malaria. 

220 THE 100 

Cromwell’s eldest son, Richard Cromwell, succeeded him, 
but ruled only briefly. In 1660, Charles II was restored to the 
throne. The remains of Oliver Cromwell were dug up and hung 
from the gibbet. But this vindictive act could not hide the fact 
that the struggle for royal absolutism had been lost. Charles II 
fully realized this, and did not attempt to contest Parliament’s 
supremacy. When his successor, James II, tried to restore royal 
absolutism, he was soon deposed in the bloodless revolution of 
1688. The result was just what Cromwell had wanted in 1640, a 
constitutional monarchy with the king clearly subservient to 
Parliament, and with a policy of religious toleration. 

In the three centuries since his death, the character of Oliver 
Cromwell has been the subject of considerable dispute. 
Numerous critics have denounced him as a hypocrite, pointing 
out that whereas he always claimed to favor parliamentary 
supremacy, and to be opposed to arbitrary executive rule, he in 
fact established a military dictatorship. The majority view, 
though, is that Cromwell’s devotion to democracy was quite 
sincere, although circumstances beyond his control sometimes 
compelled him to exercise dictatorial powers. It has been observ- 
ed that Cromwell was never devious, nor did he ever accept the 
throne or the establishment of a permanent dictatorship. His rule 
was usually moderate and tolerant. 

How shall we assess Cromwell’s overall influence on 
history? His chief importance, of course, was as a brilliant 
military leader who defeated the royalist forces in the English 
Civil War. Since the parliamentary forces had been getting 
somewhat the worst of it in the early stages of the war, before 
Cromwell came to the fore, it seems quite possible that their 
ultimate victory would not have occurred without him. The 
result of Cromwell’s victories was that democratic government 
was maintained and strengthened in England. 

This should not be thought of as something that would have 
occurred in any event. In the seventeenth century, most of 
Europe was moving in the direction of greater royal absolutism; 
the triumph of democracy in England was an event running 

Oliver Cromwell 22) 

counter to the overall trend. In later years, the example of 
English democracy was an important factor in the French 
Enlightenment, in the French Revolution, and in the eventual 
establishment of democratic governments in western Europe. It 
is also obvious that the triumph of the democratic forces in 
England played a vital role in the establishment of democracy in 
the United States and in other former English colonies, such as 
Canada and Australia. Although England itself occupies only a 
small part of the world, democracy has flowed from England to 
regions that are not small at all. 

Oliver Cromwell would have been ranked higher, except 
that almost equal credit for the establishment of democratic in- 
stitutions in England and the United States should be accorded to 
the philosopher John Locke. It is difficult to assess the relative 
importance of Cromwell, who was basically a man of action, 
and Locke, who was a man of ideas. However, given the intel- 
lectual climate of Locke’s day, political ideas closely similar to his 
would probably have been presented fairly soon, even had Locke 
himself never lived. On the other hand, had Cromwell never 
lived, there is a strong chance that the parliamentary forces 
would have lost the English Civil War. 

Cromwell refuses the crown of England. 




Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was born 
in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1847. Although he had only a few 
years of formal schooling, he was well-educated by his family 
and himself. Bell’s interest in the reproduction of vocal sounds 
arose quite naturally, since his father was an expert in vocal 
physiology, speech correction, and the teaching of the deaf. 

Bell moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1871. It was there, 
in 1875, that he made the discoveries leading to his invention of 
the telephone. He filed a patent claim for his invention in 
February 1876, and it was granted a few weeks later. (It is 
interesting to note that another man, Elisha Gray, had filed a 
patent claim for a similar device on the same day as Bell, but at a 
slightly later hour.) 

Shortly after his patent was granted, Bell exhibited the 

Alexander Graham Bell 293 

telephone at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. His in- 
vention aroused great public interest, and received an award. 
Nevertheless, the Western Union Telegraph Company, which 
was Offered the rights to the invention for $100,000, declined to 
purchase it. Bell and his associates therefore, in July 1877, form- 
ed a company of their own, the ancestor of today’s American 
Telephone and Telegraph Company. The telephone met with 
prompt—and enormous—commercial success, and AT&T eventu- 
ally became the largest private business corporation in the world. 
(It has since been broken up into several smaller companies.) 

Bell and his wife, who in March 1879 owned about 15 per- 
cent of the shares in the telephone company, seem to have had 
little idea of just how fantastically profitable the company would 
be. Within seven months, they had sold the majority of their 
stock at an average price of about $250 a share. By November, 
the stock was already selling at $1,000 a share! (Back in March, 
when the stock was selling at $65 a share, Bell’s wife had pleaded 
with him to sell immediately, since she feared the stock would 
never go that high again!) In 1881, they unwisely sold off one- 
third of their remaining stock. Nevertheless, by 1883 they were 
worth about one million dollars. 

Though the invention of the telephone made Bell a wealthy 
man, he never discontinued his research activities, and he suc- 
ceeded in inventing several other useful (though less important) 
devices. His interests were varied, but his primary concern 
always was to help the deaf. His wife, in fact, was a deaf girl 
whom he had formerly tutored. They had two sons and two 
daughters, but both boys died as infants. In 1882, Bell became a 
United States citizen. He died in 1922. 

Any estimate of Bell’s influence rests upon the degree of im- 
portance one ascribes to the telephone. In my view, this is very 
great, since few inventions are so widely used and have had such 
a tremendous impact upon everyday life. 

I have ranked Bell below Marconi because the radio is a 
more versatile device than the telephone. That is, a conversation 
conducted over the telephone could, in principle, be conducted 
by radio instead, but there are many situations (such as com- 

224 THE 100 

munication with an airplane in flight), in which a telephone 
could not possibly replace a radio. Were that the only factor in- 
volved, Bell would be ranked a lot lower than Marconi. 
However, there are two other points to be considered. First, 
although an individual phone conversation could be conducted 
by radio, it would be extremely difficult to replace our entire 
telephone system by an equivalent network of radio communica- 
tion. Second, Bell was the first person to devise a method for 
reproducing sounds; furthermore, that method was later adapted 
and utilized by the inventors of the radio receiver, the record 
player, and various similar devices. I therefore consider Alexander 
Graham Bell to have been only slightly less influential than 

Bell opens the telephone line between New York and 
Chicago in 1892. 



Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, was born in 
1881, in Lochfield, Scotland. After graduating from the medical 
school of St. Mary’s Hospital in London, Fleming engaged in im- 
munological research. Later, as an army doctor in World War I, 
he studied wound infections, and he noticed that many antisep- 
tics injured the body cells even more than they injured the 
microbes. He realized that what was needed was some substance 
that, while it would harm bacteria, would not be harmful to 
human cells. 

After the war, Fleming returned to St. Mary’s Hospital. In 
1922, while doing research there, he discovered a substance 


226 THE 100 

which he called lysozyme. Lysozyme, which is produced by the 
human body, and which is a component of both mucus and 
tears, is not harmful to human cells. It destroys certain microbes, 
but unfortunately, not those that are particularly harmful to 
man. The discovery, therefore, although interesting, was not of 
major importance. 

It was in 1928 that Fleming made his great discovery. One 
of his laboratory cultures of staphylococcus bacteria was exposed 
to the air and became contaminated by a mold. Fleming noticed 
that in the region of the culture just surrounding the mold, the 
bacteria had been dissolved. He correctly inferred that the mold 
was producing some substance which was toxic to the 
staphylococcus bacteria. He was soon able to show that the same 
substance inhibited the growth of many other types of harmful 
bacteria. The substance—which he named penicillin after the 
mold (penicillium notatum) that produced it—was not toxic to 
either human beings or animals. 

Fleming’s results were published in 1929, but they did not at 
first attract much notice. Fleming had suggested that penicillin 
could have important medical use. However, he himself was 
unable to develop a technique for purifying penicillin, and for 
more than ten years the marvelous drug remained unused. 

Finally, in the later 1930s, two British medical researchers, 
Howard Walter Florey and Ernst Boris Chain, came across 
Fleming’s article. They repeated his work and verified his 
results. They then purified penicillin, and tested the substance on 
laboratory animals. In 1941, they tested penicillin on sick human 
beings. Their tests clearly showed that the new drug was as- 
toundingly potent. 

With the encouragement of the British and American 
governments, pharmaceutical companies now entered the field, 
and rather quickly developed methods for producing large quan- 
tities of penicillin. At first, penicillin was reserved only for the 
use of war casualties, but by 1944, it was available for the treat- 
ment of civilians in Britain and America. When the war ended, 
in 1945, the use of penicillin spread all over the world. 

Alexander Fleming 227 

The discovery of penicillin greatly stimulated the search for 
other antibiotics, and that research has resulted in the discovery 
of many other “miracle drugs.” Nevertheless, penicillin remains 
the most widely used antibiotic. 

One reason for its continued supremacy is that penicillin is 
effective against a very large variety of harmful microorganisms. 
The drug is useful in the treatment of syphilis, gonorrhea, scarlet 
fever, and diphtheria, as well as some forms of arthritis, bron- 
chitis, meningitis, blood poisoning, boils, bone infections, 
pneumonia, gangrene, and various other ailments. 

Another advantage of penicillin is the wide margin of safety 
in its use. Doses of 50,000 units of penicillin are effective against 
some infections; but injections of 100 million units of penicillin a 
day have been given without ill effects. Although a small per- 
centage of people are allergic to penicillin, for most persons the 
drug provides an ideal combination of potency and safety. 

Since penicillin has already saved many millions of lives and 
will surely save many more in the future, few persons would 
dispute the importance of Fleming’s discovery. His exact place- 
ment on a list such as this would depend, of course, upon how 
much credit one feels should be allocated to Florey and Chain. I 
feel that the bulk of the credit should go to Fleming, who made 
the essential discovery. Without him, it might have been many 
years before penicillin was ever discovered. Once he had publish- 
ed his results, however, it was inevitable that sooner or later im- 
proved techniques of production and purification would be 

Fleming was happily married and had one child. In 1945, 
he was awarded a Nobel Prize for his discovery, sharing the 
award with Florey and Chain. Fleming died in 1955. 




The famous English philosopher John Locke was the first writer 
to put together in coherent form the basic ideas of constitutional 
democracy. His ideas strongly influenced the founding fathers of 
the United States, as well as many leading philosophers of the 
French Enlightenment. 

Locke was born in 1632, in Wrington, England. He was 
educated at Oxford University, where he received a bachelor’s 
degree in 1656 and a master’s degree in 1658. As a young man, he 
was very much interested in science, and at thirty-six was elected 
to the Royal Society. He became good friends with the famous 
chemist Robert Boyle, and later in his life became friends with 
Isaac Newton. He was also interested in medicine, and received a 
bachelor’s degree in that field, though he only practiced 

John Locke 229 

A turning point in Locke’s life was his acquaintance with 
the Earl of Shaftesbury, to whom he became secretary and fami- 
ly physician. Shaftesbury was an important spokesman for 
liberal political ideas, and for a while was imprisoned by King 
Charles II because of his political activities. In 1682, Shaftesbury 
fled to Holland, where he died the following year. Locke, who 
because of his close association with Shaftesbury was likewise 
under suspicion, fled to Holland in 1683. He remained there un- 
til after Charles’s successor, King James II, had been removed by 
the successful revolution of 1688. Locke returned home in 1689; 
thereafter, he lived in England. Locke, who never married, died 
in 1704. 

The book that first made Locke famous was An Essay Con- 
cerning Human Understanding (1690), in which he discussed the 
origin, nature, and limits of human knowledge. Locke’s views 
were basically empiricist, and the influence of Francis Bacon and 
René Descartes upon his thought is obvious. Locke’s ideas, in 
turn, influenced philosophers such as Bishop George Berkeley, 
David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. Although the Essay is 
Locke’s most original work, and is one of the famous classics of 
philosophy, it has had less influence upon _ historical 
developments than his political writings. 

In A Letter Concerning Toleration (first published 
anonymously, in 1689), Locke maintained that the state should 
not interfere with the free exercise of religion. Locke was not the 
first Englishman to suggest religious toleration of all Protestant 
sects; however, the strong arguments he presented in favor of 
toleration were a factor in the growth of public support for this 
policy. Furthermore, Locke extended the principle of toleration 
to non-Christians: “...neither Pagan, nor Mahometan, nor Jew, 
ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth 
because of his religion.”” However, Locke believed that this 
toleration should not be extended to Catholics, because he believ- 
ed that they owed their allegiance to a foreign potentate, nor to 
atheists. By today’s standards, he would therefore be considered 
very intolerant, but it is reasonable to judge him in relation to the 

230 THE 100 

ideas of his own times. In fact, the arguments he presented in 
favor of religious toleration were more convincing to his readers 
than the exceptions he made. Today, thanks in part to Locke’s 
writings, religious toleration is extended even to those groups 
that he would have excluded. 

Of still greater importance was Locke’s Two Treatises of 
Government (1689), in which he presented the basic ideas 
underlying liberal constitutional democracy. That book’s in- 
fluence upon political thought throughout the English-speaking 
world has been profound. Locke firmly believed that each 
human being possessed natural rights, and that these included 
not only life, but personal liberty and the right to hold property. 
The main purpose of government, Locke asserted, was to protect 
the persons and property of the subjects. This view has 
sometimes been called the “night-watchman theory of govern- 

Rejecting the notion of the divine right of kings, Locke 
maintained that governments obtained their authority only from 
the consent of the governed. “The liberty of man in society is to 
be under no other legislative power but that established by con- 
sent in the commonwealth...” Locke strongly emphasized the 
idea of a social contract. This notion was derived in part from the 
writings of an earlier English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes 
(1588-1679). But whereas Hobbes had used the idea of a social 
contract to justify absolutism, in Locke’s view the social contract 
was revokable: 

...whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and 
destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to 
slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a 
state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved 
from any further obedience, and are left to the common 
refuge which God hath provided for all men against force 
and violence. 

Also, “...there remains still in the people a supreme power to 
remove or alter the legislative when they find the legislative act 

John Locke 93) 

contrary to the trust reposed in them...” Locke’s defense of the 
right of revolution strongly influenced Thomas Jefferson and 
other American revolutionaries. 

Locke believed in the principle of separation of powers; 
however, he felt that the legislature should be superior to the ex- 
ecutive (and therefore to the judiciary, which he considered a 
part of the executive branch.) A believer in legislative 
supremacy, Locke would almost certainly have opposed the right 
of courts to declare legislative acts unconstitutional. 

Though Locke firmly believed in the principle of majority 
rule, he nevertheless made it clear that a government did not 
possess unlimited rights. A majority must not violate the natural 
rights of men, nor was it free to deprive them of their property 
rights. A government could only rightfully take property with 
the consent of the governed. (In America, this idea was eventual- 
ly expressed by the slogan, “No taxation without representa- 
tion.”) , 

It is evident from the foregoing that Locke had expressed 
virtually all the major ideas of the American Revolution almost a 
century before that event. His influence upon Thomas Jefferson 
is particularly striking. Locke’s ideas penetrated to the European 
mainland as well—particularly to France, where they were an 
indirect factor leading to the French Revolution and the French 
Declaration of the Rights of Man. Although such figures as 
Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson are more famous than Locke, his 
writings preceded theirs and strongly influenced them. It 
therefore seems reasonable that he should precede them on this 




Ludwig van Beethoven, the greatest of all musical composers, 
was born in 1770, in the city of Bonn, Germany. He exhibited 

talent at an early age, and his first published works date from 

1783. As a young man, he visited Vienna, where he was in- 
troduced to Mozart; however, their acquaintance was fairly 
brief. In 1792, Beethoven returned to Vienna, and for a while he 
studied under Haydn, then the leading Viennese composer 
(Mozart had died the year before). Beethoven was to remain in 
Vienna, at that time the music capital of the world, for the 
remainder of his life. 

Beethoven’s immense virtuosity as a pianist impressed 
everyone, and he was successful both as a performer and a 
teacher. He soon became a prolific composer as well. His works 
were well received, and from his mid-twenties on, he was able to 
sell them to publishers without difficulty. 

Ludwig van Beethoven 233 

When Beethoven was in his late twenties, the first signs of 
his deafness appeared. Not surprisingly, the young composer was 
deeply disturbed by this ominous development. For a while, he 
even contemplated suicide. 

The years from 1802 to 1815 are sometimes considered the 
middle period of Beethoven’s career. During this interval, as his 
deafness steadily progressed, he began to withdraw socially. His 
increasing deafness caused people to form the unwarranted im- 
pression that he was a misanthrope. He had several romantic at- 
tachments with young ladies, but all appear to have ended 
unhappily, and he never married. 

Beethoven’s musical output continued to be prolific. As the 
years went by, however, he paid less and less attention to what 
would be popular with the musical audiences of his day. Never- 
theless, he continued to be successful. 

In his late forties, Beethoven became totally deaf. As a con- 
sequence, he gave no more public performances and became 
even more withdrawn socially. His works were fewer and harder 
to understand. By now, he was composing primarily for himself 
and some ideal future audience. He is alleged to have said to one 
critic, “They are not for you, but for a later age.” 

It is one of the cruelest ironies of fate that the most talented 
composer of all times should have been afflicted with the 
disability of deafness. Had Beethoven, by a superhuman effort of 
will, managed to maintain the quality of his compositions despite 
his deafness, it would have been an inspiring and near-incredible 
feat. But truth is stranger than fiction: in fact, during his years of 
total deafness, Beethoven did more than merely equal the level of 
his earlier compositions. The works that he produced during 
those last years are generally considered to be his greatest master- 
pieces. He died in Vienna in 1827, at the age of fifty-seven. 

Beethoven’s large output included nine symphonies, thirty- 
two piano sonatas, five piano concertos, ten sonatas for the piano 
and violin, a series of magnificent string quartets, vocal music, 
theater music, and much more. More important, however, than 
the quantity of his work is its quality. His works superbly com- 

234 THE 100 

bine intensity of feeling with perfection of design. Beethoven 
demonstrated that instrumental music could no longer be con- 
sidered an art form of secondary importance, and his own com- 
positions raised such music to the very highest level of art. 

Beethoven was a highly original composer, and many of the 
changes that he introduced have had a lasting effect. He expand- 
ed the size of the orchestra. He extended the length of the sym- 
phony and widened its scope. By demonstrating the enormous 
possibilities of the piano, he helped to establish it as the foremost 
musical instrument. Beethoven marked the transition from the 
classical to the romantic style of music, and his works were an in- 
spiration for much that characterized romanticism. 

Beethoven had a very great influence upon many later com- 
posers, including persons with such diverse styles as Brahms, 
Wagner, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky. He also paved the way for 
Berlioz, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, and many others. 

An original manuscript by Ludwig van Beethoven. 


Ludwig van Beethoven 235 

It seems plain that Beethoven must outrank any other musi- 
cian on this list. Although Johann Sebastian Bach is almost equal- 
ly prestigious, Beethoven’s works have been more widely and fre- 
quently listened to than Bach’s. Furthermore, the numerous in- 
novations that Beethoven made have had a more profound in- 
fluence on subsequent developments in music than Bach’s works 

In general, political and ethical ideas can be more easily and 
clearly expressed in words than in music, and literature is thus a 
more influential field of art than is music. It is for this reason that 
Beethoven, though the preeminent figure in the history of music, 
has been ranked somewhat lower than Shakespeare. In compar- 
ing Beethoven with Michelangelo, I have been strongly influ- 
enced by the fact that most persons spend far more time listening 
to music than they do looking at painting or sculpture. For this 
reason, I think that musical composers are generally more in- 
fluential than painters or sculptors whose eminence in their own 
field is equivalent. All in all, it seems appropriate to rank 
Beethoven roughly halfway between Shakespeare and 






In 1932, the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Werner Karl 
Heisenberg, a German physicist, for his role in the creation of 
quantum mechanics, one of the most important achievements in 
the entire history of science. 

Mechanics is that branch of physics which deals with the 
general laws governing the motion of material objects. It is the 
most fundamental branch of physics, which in turn is the most 
fundamental of the sciences. In the early years of the twentieth 
century, it gradually became apparent that the accepted laws of 
mechanics were unable to describe the behavior of extremely 
minute objects, such as atoms and subatomic particles. This was 
both distressing and puzzling, since the accepted laws worked 

Werner Heisenberg 237 

superbly when applied to macroscopic objects (that is, to objects 
which were much larger than individual atoms). 

In 1925, Werner Heisenberg proposed a new formulation of 
physics, one that was radically different in its basic concepts 
from the classical formulation of Newton. This new theory— 
after some modification by Heisenberg’s successors—has been 
brilliantly successful, and is today accepted as being applicable 
to all physical systems, of whatever type or size. 

It can be demonstrated mathematically that where only 
macroscopic systems are involved, the predictions of quantum 
mechanics differ from those of classical mechanics by amounts 
which are far too small to measure. (For this reason, classical 
mechanics—which is mathematically much simpler than quan- 
tum mechanics—can still be used for most scientific computa- 
tions.) However, where systems of atomic dimensions are involv- 
ed, the predictions of quantum mechanics differ substantially 
from those of classical mechanics; experiments have shown that 
in such cases the predictions of quantum mechanics are correct. 

One of the consequences of Heisenberg’s theory is the 
famous “uncertainty principle,” which he himself formulated in 
1927. That principle is generally considered to be one of the most 
profound and far-reaching principles in all of science. What the 
uncertainty principle does is to specify certain theoretical limits 
on our ability to make scientific measurements. The implications 
of this principle are enormous. If the basic laws of physics pre- 
vent a scientist, even in the most ideal circumstances, from ob- 
taining accurate knowledge of the system that he is attempting to 
investigate, it is obvious that the future behavior of that system 
cannot be completely predicted. According to the uncertainty 
principle, no improvements in our measuring apparatus will ever 
permit us to surmount this difficulty! 

The uncertainty principle insures that physics, in the very 
nature of things, is unable to make more than statistical predic- 
tions. (A scientist studying radioactivity, for example, might be 
able to predict that out of a trillion radium atoms, two million 
will emit gamma rays during the next day. He is, however, 

2.38 THE 100 

unable to predict whether any particular radium atom will do 
so.) In many practical circumstances, this is not a grave restric- 
tion. Where very large numbers are involved, statistical methods 
can often provide a very reliable basis for action; but where small 
numbers are involved, statistical predictions are unreliable in- 
deed. In fact, where small systems are involved, the uncertainty 
principle forces us to abandon our ideas of strict physical causali- 
ty. This represents a most profound change in the basic 
philosophy of science; so profound, indeed, that a great scientist 
like Einstein was never willing to accept it. “I cannot believe,” 
Einstein once said, “that God plays dice with the universe.” 
That, however, is essentially the view that most modern 
physicists have felt it necessary to adopt. 

It is clear that from a theoretical point of view the quantum 
theory, to a greater extent perhaps than even the theory of 
relativity, has altered our basic conception of the physical world. 
However, the theory’s consequences are not only philosophical. 

Among its practical applications are such modern devices as 

electron microscopes, lasers, and transistors. Quantum theory 
also has wide applications in nuclear physics and atomic energy. 
It forms the basis of our knowledge of spectroscopy, and is 
employed extensively in astronomy and chemistry. It is also used 
in theoretical investigations of such diverse topics as the proper- 
ties of liquid helium, the internal constitution of the stars, fer- 
romagnetism, and radioactivity. 

Werner Heisenberg was born in Germany, in 1901. He 
received a doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of 
Munich in 1923. From 1924 to 1927, he worked in Copenhagen 
with the great Danish physicist, Niels Bohr. His first important 
paper on quantum mechanics was published in 1925, and his for- 
mulation of the uncertainty principle appeared in 1927. Heisen- 
berg died in 1976, at the age of seventy-four. He was survived by 
his wife and seven children. 

In view of the importance of quantum mechanics, the read- 
er may wonder why Heisenberg has not been ranked even higher 
on this list. However, Heisenberg was not the only important sci- 

Werner Heisenberg 239 

entist involved in the development of quantum mechanics. Sig- 
nificant contributions had been made by his predecessors, Max 
Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and the French scientist, 
Louis de Broglie. In addition, many other scientists, including 
the Austrian, Erwin Schrodinger, and the Englishman, P.A.M. 
Dirac, made major contributions to quantum theory in the years 
immediately following the publication of Heisenberg’s seminal 
paper. Nevertheless, I think that Heisenberg was the principal 
‘figure in the development of quantum mechanics, and that— 
even when the credit is distributed—his contributions entitle him 
to a high spot on this list. 




Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre was the man who, in the late 
1830s, succeeded in developing the first practical method of 

Daguerre was born in 1787, in the town of Cormeilles, in 
northern France. As a young man, he was an artist. In his mid- 
thirties, he designed the Diorama, a spectacular array of panora- 
mic paintings exhibited with special lighting effects. While 
engaged in this work, he became interested in developing a 
mechanism for automatically reproducing views of the world 
without brushes and paint—in other words, a camera. 

His early attempts to devise a workable camera were unsuc- 
cessful. In 1827, he met Joseph Nicéphore Niepce, who had 
likewise been trying (and up till then with somewhat greater suc- 
cess) to invent a camera. Two years later they became partners. 

Louis Daguerre 241 

In 1833, Niepce died, but Daguerre persisted in his efforts. By 
1837, he had succeeded in developing a practical system of 
photography, called the daguerreotype. 

In 1839, Daguerre made his process public, without patent- 
ing it; in return, the French government granted lifetime pen- 
sions both to Daguerre and to Niepce’s son. The announcement 
of Daguerre’s invention created a great public sensation. 
Daguerre was the hero of the day and was showered with 
honors, while the daguerreotype method rapidly came into 
widespread use. Daguerre himself soon retired. He died in 1851, 
at his country home near Paris. 

Few inventions have as many uses as photography does. It is 
widely employed in virtually every field of scientific research. It 
has a wide variety of industrial and military applications. It is a 
serious art form for some people, and an enjoyable hobby for 
millions more. Photographs impart information (or misinforma- 
tion) in education, journalism, and advertising. Because 
photographs are capable of vividly recalling the past, they have 
become the most common of all souvenirs and mementos. 
Cinematography, of course, is an important subsidiary develop- 
ment that—besides serving as a major entertainment medium—. 
has virtually as many applications as still photography. 

No invention derives entirely from the work of a single man, 
and certainly, the earlier work of many other men had prepared 
the way for Daguerre’s achievement. The camera obscura (a 
device similar to a pinhole camera, but without any film) had 
been invented at least eight centuries before Daguerre. In the six- 
teenth century, Girolamo Cardano took the important step of 
placing a lens in the opening of the camera obscura. That made it 
an interesting preliminary to the modern camera; however, since 
the image it produced had no permanence at all, it can hardly be 
considered a type of photography. Another important prelimi- 
nary discovery was made in 1727, by Johann Schulze, who 
discovered that silver salts were sensitive to light. Although he 
used this discovery to make some temporary images, Schulze did 
not really pursue the idea. 

242 THE 100 

The predecessor who came closest to Daguerre’s achieve- 
ment was Niepce, who later became Daguerre’s partner. About 
1820, Niepce discovered that bitumen of Judea, a type of 
asphalt, was sensitive to light. By combining this light-sensitive 
substance with a camera obscura, Niepce succeeded in making 
the world’s first photographs. (One that he took in 1826 still ex- 
ists.) For that reason, some people feel that Niepce should rightly 
be considered the inventor of photography. However, Niepce’s 
method of photography was totally impractical, since it required 
about eight hours’ exposure time, and even then resulted in a 
rather fuzzy picture. 

In Daguerre’s method, the image was recorded on a plate 
coated with silver iodide. An exposure time of fifteen to twenty 
minutes was sufficient, which made the method, although 
cumbersome, of practical utility. Within two years after 
Daguerre made his method public, other persons proposed a 
slight modification: the addition of silver bromide to the silver 
iodide used as a light-sensitive material. This slight change had 
the important effect of greatly reducing the exposure time need- 
ed, and thereby making it practical to make portraits by 

In 1839, not long after Daguerre announced his invention of 
photography, William Henry Fox Talbot, an English scientist, 
announced that he had developed a different method of 
photography, one that involved making negative prints first, as is 
done today. It is interesting to note that Talbot had actually pro- 
duced his first photographs in 1835, two years before the first 
daguerreotype. Talbot, who was engaged in several other pro- 
jects, did not promptly follow up his photographic experiments. 
Had he done so, he would probably have developed a commer- 
cially feasible system of photography before Daguerre did, and 
would today be considered the inventor of photography. 

In the years following Daguerre and Talbot, there have 
been enormous improvements in photography: the wet-plate 
process, the dry-plate process, modern roll film, color photo- 
graphs, motion pictures, Polaroid photography, and xerography. 

Louis Daguerre 243 

Despite the many persons involved in the development of 
photography, I feel that Louis Daguerre made by far the most 
important contribution. There was no feasible system of photo- 
graphy before him, whereas the technique that he devised was 
practical and soon became widely used. Furthermore, his well- 
publicized invention provided a great impetus to subsequent 
developments. It is true that the methods of photography that we 
use today are very different from the daguerreotype method; 
however, even had none of these later techniques ever been 
developed, the daguerreotype would provide us with a usable 
technique of photography. 

The official Daguerre camera produced by Daguerre's 
brother-in-law, Alphonse Giroux, carried a label that says: 
“No apparatus guaranteed if it does not bear the signature 
of M. Daguerre and the seal of M. Giroux.” 




Simon Bolivar is often called “the George Washington of South 
America” because of his role in the liberation of five South 
American countries (Colombia, Venezula, Ecuador, Peru and 
Bolivia) from Spanish rule. Few, if-any, political figures have 
played so dominant a role in the history of an entire continent as 
he did. 

Bolivar was born in 1783, in Caracas, Venezuela, into an 
aristocratic family of Spanish descent. He was orphaned at the 
age of nine. During his formative years, Bolivar was strongly in- 
fluenced by the ideas and ideals of the French Enlightenment. 
Among the philosophers whose works he read were John Locke, 
Rousseau, Voltaire, and Montesquieu. 

As a young man, Bolivar visited several European countries. 
In Rome, in 1805, at the top of the Aventine Hill, Bolfvar made 

Simén Bolivar 245 

his celebrated vow that he would not rest until his fatherland had 
been liberated from Spain. 

In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain and placed his 
own brother at the head of the Spanish government. By dislodg- 
ing the Spanish royal family from effective political power, 
Napoleon provided the South American colonies with a golden 
opportunity to strike out for their own political independence. 

The revolution against Spanish rule in Venezuela com- 
menced in 1810, when the Spanish governor of Venezuela was 
deposed. A formal declaration of independence was made in 
1811, and that same year Bolivar became an officer in the revolu- 
tionary army. But the following year, the Spanish troops regain- 
ed control of Venezuela. The leader of the revolution, Francisco 
Miranda, was jailed, and Bolivar fled the country. 

The succeeding years witnessed a series of wars, in which 
temporary victories were followed by crushing defeats. Never- 
theless, Bolivar’s resolution never wavered. The turning point 
came in 1819, when Bolivar led his small, ragtag army across 
rivers, plains, and the high passes of the Andes in order to attack 
the Spanish troops in Colombia. There he won the crucial Battle 
of Boyaca (August 7, 1819), the true turning point of the strug- 
gle. Venezuela was liberated in 1821, and Ecuador in 1822. 

Meanwhile, the Argentine patriot José de San Martin had 
secured the freedom of Argentina and Chile from Spanish rule, 
and had undertaken the liberation of Peru. The two liberators 
met in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, in the summer of 1822. 
However, they were unable to agree on a plan for cooperating 
and coordinating their efforts against the Spanish. Since San 
Martin was unwilling to engage in a power struggle with the am- 
bitious Bolivar (which would only have aided the Spanish), he 
decided to resign his command and withdraw from South 
America completely. By 1824, Bolivar’s armies had completed 
the liberation of what is now Peru, and in 1825, the Spanish 

troops in Upper Peru (present-day Bolivia) were routed. 
| The remaining years of Bolivar’s career were less successful. 
He had been impressed by the example of the United States of 

246 THE 100 

America, and looked forward to a federation of the new South 
American nations. In fact, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador 
had already been formed into a Republic of Greater Colombia, 
with Bolivar as president. Unfortunately, the centrifugal tenden- 
cies in South America were far greater than they had been in the 
North American colonies. When Bolivar convoked a Congress of 
Spanish American States in 1826, only four nations attended. In- 
deed, rather than more nations joining Greater Colombia, the 
republic itself soon began to break up. Civil war broke out, and 
in 1828, an attempt was made to assassinate Bolivar. By 1830, 
Venezuela and Ecuador had seceded. Bolivar, realizing that he 
himself was an obstacle to peace, resigned in April 1830. When 
he died, in December 1830, he was discouraged, impoverished, 
and exiled from his native Venezuela. 

Bolivar was clearly a very ambitious man, and under the ex- 
igencies of the times, he sometimes assumed dictatorial powers. 
Nevertheless, when it came to a choice, he was willing to subor- 
dinate his personal ambitions to the public welfare and the ideal 
of democracy, and he invariably relinquished his dictatorial 
powers. He was once offered a throne, but declined it. 
Doubtless, he felt that the name “E] Libertador” (the Liberator), 
which had already been bestowed upon him, was a greater honor 
than any kingly title. 

There is no doubt that Bolivar was the dominant figure in 
the liberation of Spanish America from colonial rule. He pro- 
vided the ideological leadership for the movement—writing 
articles, issuing a newspaper, making speeches, and writing let- 
ters. He was tireless in raising funds to support the struggle. And 
he was the principal military leader of the revolutionary forces. 

Still, it would be a mistake to think of Bolivar as a great 
general. The armies he defeated were neither large nor well-led. 
Bolivar himself was not particularly talented in either strategy or 
tactics. (This is hardly surprising, since he had never received 
any military training.) But Bolivar made up for all his other 
shortcomings by his indomitable spirit in the face of adversity. 
After each defeat by the Spanish, when others were willing to 

Simon Bolivar 247 

abandon the fight, Bolivar resolutely reassembled an army and 
continued the struggle. 

In my opinion, Bolivar was far more influential than such fa- 
mous figures as Julius Caesar or Charlemagne, both because the 
changes resulting from his career have proven more permanent, 
and because the regions affected cover a larger area. However, 
Bolivar has been ranked below Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler, 
and Napoleon, since many of the things that those three men did 
would not have occurred without them, while it is difficult to be- 
lieve that the South American countries would not eventually have 
achieved their independence anyway. 

The most interesting and significant comparison to make is 
between Bolivar and George Washington. Like Washington, 
Bolivar commanded small and poorly-trained armies. Money 
was short, and it frequently required an inspiring leader to keep 
the army together at all. 

Unlike Washington, Bolivar freed all his own slaves during 
his lifetime. In addition, by proclamation and by constitutional 
provision, he actively tried to abolish slavery in the lands he 
liberated. His attempts were not wholly successful, and slavery 
still existed in the region when he died. 

Bolivar had a complex and interesting personality— 
dramatic, daring, and romantic. A handsome man, he had 
numerous love affairs. He was a far-sighted idealist, but had less 
administrative ability than Washington, and enjoyed flattery 
more. He was far more ambitious than Washington—to the 
disadvantage of the regions that he liberated. On the other hand, 
Bolivar was utterly uninterested in financial gain. He was 
wealthy when he entered politics, poor when he retired. 

The territory that Bolivar freed from colonial rule was con- 
siderably larger than that of the original United States. Never- 
theless, it is clear that he is a considerably less important figure 
than Washington, simply because the United States has played a 
far more important role in history than the countries liberated by 




René Descartes, the famous French philosopher, scientist, and 
mathematician, was born in 1596, in the village of La Haye. In 
his youth he attended a fine Jesuit school, the College of La 
Fleche. When he was twenty, he obtained a law degree from the 
University of Poitiers; however, he never practiced law. Though 
he had received an excellent education, Descartes was convinced 
that there was very little reliable knowledge in any field, with 
the exception of mathematics. Rather than continuing his formal 
education, he decided to travel throughout Europe and see the 
world for himself. As his family was well-to-do, Descartes’s in- 
come was sufficient to enable him to travel freely. 

From 1616 to 1628, Descartes traveled extensively. He serv- 
ed briefly in three different armies (those of Holland, Bavaria, 

René Descartes 249 

and Hungary), though apparently he was not involved in any 
combat. He also visited Italy, Poland, Denmark, and other coun- 
tries. During these years, he formulated what he considered to be 
a general method for discovering truth. When he was thirty-two 
years old, Descartes decided to apply his method in an attempt to 
construct a comprehensive picture of the world. He then settled 
in Holland, where he was to live for the next twenty-one years. 
(He chose Holland because there was more intellectual liberty 
there, and also because he preferred to be away from the social 
distractions of Paris.) 

About 1629, he wrote Rules for the Direction of the Mind, a 
book in which his method was outlined. (However, the book is 
incomplete and was probably never intended for publication; it 
was first published more than fifty years after Descartes’s death.) 
In the years from 1630 through 1634, Descartes applied his 
method to the study of the sciences. To learn more about 
anatomy and physiology, he performed dissections. He engaged 
in major independent research in _ optics, meteorology, 
mathematics, and several other branches of science. 

It was Descartes’s intention to present his scientific results in 
a book to be called Le Monde (the world). However, in 1633, 
when the book was almost finished, he learned that church 
authorities in Italy had convicted Galileo for advocating Coper- 
nicus’s theory that the earth revolved about the sun. Though in 
Holland he was not subject to the Catholic authorities, Descartes 
nevertheless decided that it would be prudent of him not to issue 
his book, as in it, he, too, defended the Copernican theory. In- 
stead, in 1637, he published his most famous work, his Discourse 
on the Method for Properly Guiding the Reason and Finding 
Truth in the Sciences (usually abbreviated to Discourse on 

The Discourse was written in French rather than Latin, so 
that all intelligent persons could read it, including those who had 
not had a classical education. Appended to the Discourse were 
three essays in which Descartes gave examples of the discoveries 
he had made by the use of his method. In the first such appendix, 

250 THE 100 

the Optics, Descartes presented the law of refraction of light 
(which had, however, been discovered earlier by Willebrord 
Snell). He also discussed lenses and various optical instruments; 
described the functioning of the eye and various malfunctions; 
and presented a theory of light that is a preliminary version of the 
wave theory later formulated by Christiaan Huygens. His second 
appendix comprised the first modern discussion of meteorology. 
He discussed clouds, rain, and wind, and gave a correct explana- 
tion for the rainbow. He argued against the notion that heat con- 
sists of an invisible fluid,and he correctly concluded that heat is a 
form of internal motion. (But this idea had already been 
presented by Francis Bacon and others.) In the third appendix, 
the Geometry, Descartes presented his most important contribu- 
tion of all, his invention of analytic geometry. This was a major 
mathematical advance that prepared the way for Newton’s in- 
vention of calculus. 

Perhaps the most interesting part of Descartes’s philosophy 
is the way he begins. Mindful of the large number of incorrect 
notions that were generally accepted, Descartes decided that in 
order to reach the truth he must make a fresh start. He therefore 
begins by doubting everything—everything his teachers had told 
him, all of his most’ cherished beliefs, all his commonsense 
ideas—even the existence of the external world, even his own 
existence—in a word, everything. 

' This, of course, leads to a problem: how is it possible to 
overcome such universal doubt and obtain reliable knowledge of 
anything? Descartes, however, by a series of ingenious meta- 
physical arguments, was able to prove to his own satisfaction 
that he himself existed (“I think, therefore I am’), that God ex- 
ists, and that the external world exists. These were the starting 
points of Descartes’s theory. : 

The importance of Descartes’s method is twofold. First, he 
placed at the center of his philosophical system the fundamental 
epistemological question, “What is the origin of human know- 
ledge?” Earlier philosophers had tried to describe the nature of 
the world. Descartes has taught us that such a question cannot be 

René Descartes 251 

answered satisfactorily except in conjunction with the question 
“How dol know?” 

Second, Descartes suggested that we should start not with 
faith but with doubt. (This was the exact reverse of the attitude 
of St. Augustine, and most medieval theologians, that faith must 
come first.) It is true that Descartes then proceeded to reach or- 
thodox theological conclusions. However, his readers paid far 
more attention to the method he advocated than to the conclu- 
sions he reached. (The Church’s fears that Descartes’s writings 
would in the end prove subversive were quite justified.) 

In his philosophy, Descartes stresses the distinction between 
the mind and material objects, and in this respect advocates a 
thoroughgoing dualism. This distinction had been made before, 
but Descartes’s writings stimulated philosophical discussion of 
the subject. The questions he raised have interested philosophers 
ever since, and have still not been resolved. 

Also highly influential was Descartes’s conception of the 
physical universe. He believed that the entire world—aside from 
God and the human soul—operated mechanically, and that 
therefore all natural events could be explained by mechanical 
causes. For this reason, he rejected the claims of astrology, 
magic, and other forms of superstition. He likewise rejected all 
teleological explanations of events. (That is, he looked for direct 
mechanical causes and rejected the notion that events occurred 
in order to serve some remote final purpose.) From Descartes’s 
outlook, it followed that animals were, in essence, complicated 
machines, and that the human body, too, was subject to the 
ordinary laws of mechanics. This has since become one of the 
fundamental ideas of modern physiology. 

Descartes favored scientific research and believed that its 
practical applications could be beneficial to society. He felt that 
scientists should avoid vague notions and should attempt to 
describe the world by mathematical equations. All this sounds 
very modern. However, Descartes, though he made observations 
himself, never really stressed the crucial importance of ex- 
perimentation in the scientific method. 

252 THE 100 

The famous British philosopher Francis Bacon had _pro- 
claimed the need for scientific investigation, and the benefits to 
be expected therefrom, several years before Descartes. Nor was 
Descartes’s celebrated argument, “I think, therefore I am,” 
original; it had been stated more than 1200 years earlier (in 
different words, of course) by St. Augustine. Similarly, 
Descartes’s “proof” of the existence of God is merely a variation 
of the ontological argument first presented by St. Anselm 

In 1641, Descartes published another famous book, the 
Meditations. His Principles of Philosophy appeared in 1644. Both 
were originally written in Latin, but French translations ap- 
peared in 1647. 

Although Descartes was a polished writer, with a charming 
prose style, the tone of his writings is surprisingly old-fashioned. 
Indeed, he often sounds (perhaps because of his rationalist ap- 
proach) like a medieval scholastic. By contrast, Francis Bacon, 
though born thirty-five years before Descartes, has a quite 
modern tone.) 

As his writings make clear, Descartes was a firm believer in 
God. He considered himself a good Catholic; however, Church 
authorities disliked his views, and his works were placed on the 
Catholic Index of forbidden books. Even in Protestant Holland 
(at that time, probably the most tolerant country in Europe), 
Descartes was accused of atheism and had trouble with the 

In 1649, Descartes accepted a generous financial offer from 
Queen Christina of Sweden to come to Stockholm and become 
her private tutor. Descartes liked warm rooms, and had always 
enjoyed sleeping late. He was much distressed to learn that the 
queen wanted her lessons given at five o'clock in the morning! 
Descartes feared that the cold morning air would be the death of 
him, and indeed it was: it was not long before he caught 
pneumonia. He died in February 1650, only four months after 
arriving in Sweden. 

Descartes never married. However he had one child, a 
daughter, who unfortunately died young. 

René Descartes 253 

Descartes’s philosophy was strongly criticized by many of 
his contemporaries, in part because they felt that it involved cir- 
cular reasoning. Subsequent philosophers have pointed out many 
shortcomings in his system, and few people today would defend 
it wholeheartedly. But the importance of a philosopher does not 
depend solely on the correctness of his system: of greater 
significance is whether his ideas—or rather, the ideas that others 
extract from his writings—prove widely influential. On that 
basis, there is little doubt that Descartes was an important 

At least five of Descartes’s ideas had an important impact on 
European thought: (a) his mechanical view of the universe; (b) 
his positive attitude towards scientific investigation; (c) the stress 
he laid on the use of mathematics in science; (d) his advocacy of 
initial skepticism; and (e) the attention he focused on epistemol- 

In assessing Descartes’s overall importance I have also taken 
into account his impressive scientific achievements, in particular 
his invention of analytic geometry. It is that factor which has 
persuaded me to rank Descartes substantially higher than such 
eminent philosophers as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Francis Bacon. 



Pour bien conduire fa raifon,& chercher 

la verice dans les {ciences. 


; ET 
Qu fons des tffais de cette Me THODE. 


Title page from the first 
edition of Discourse on 
Method, 1637. 

A Leypa 

Meade Timprimericde Lan Marr & 

ela In ¢ xxuxvit 
Asee Printhege, 





The great Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti is the 
outstanding figure in the history of the visual arts. A brilliant 
painter, sculptor, and architect, Michelangelo left behind an 
assortment of masterpieces which have impressed viewers for 
over four centuries. His work profoundly influenced the subse- 
quent development of European painting and sculpture. 
Michelangelo was born in 1475, in the town of Caprese, Ita- 
ly, about forty miles from Florence. He showed talent at an early 
age, and at thirteen he was apprenticed to the famous painter 
Ghirlandaio, in Florence. When Michelangelo was fifteen, he 
was taken to live in the Medici palace, almost as a member of the 
family, by Lorenzo the Magnificent, the ruler of Florence, who 

Michelangelo 255 

became his patron. Throughout his career, Michelangelo’s enor- 
mous talent was obvious, and he was frequently commissioned 
by popes and secular rulers alike, to design and produce works of 
art. Although he lived in various places, most of his life was spent 
in Rome and Florence. He died in Rome, in 1564, shortly before 
his eighty-ninth birthday. He never married. 

Although he was not quite as universal a genius as his older 
contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo’s versatility is 




The “David,” in the Accademia 
in Florence. 

still extremely impressive. 
He was the only artist, in- 
deed, perhaps the only per- 
son, ever to reach the 
highest peaks of achieve- 
ment in two separate fields 
of human endeavor. As a 
painter, Michelangelo ranks 
at or near the very top, both 
in the quality of his finest 
work and in the influence he 
has had upon later painters. 
The enormous set of frescoes 
with which he decorated the 
ceiling of the Sistine Chapel 
in Rome is justly celebrated 
as one of the greatest artistic 
achievements of all time. 
Nevertheless, Michelangelo 
considered himself to be 
primarily a sculptor, and 
many critics consider him 
the greatest sculptor who 
ever lived. His statues of 
David and of Moses, for ex- 
ample, and the famous 
Pieta, are all works of unex- 
celled artistry. 

The “Pieta,” in the Vatican in Rome. 

Michelangelo 257 

Michelangelo was also a highly talented architect. Among 
his well-known achievements in this field is the design of the 
Medici Chapel in Florence. For a good many years, he was also 
the chief architect of St. Peter’s in Rome. 

Michelangelo composed many poems during his lifetime, 
some 300 of which survive. His numerous sonnets and other 
poems were not published until well after his death. They pro- 
vide considerable insight into his personality, and clearly show 
that he was a talented poet. 

As I have explained in the article on Shakespeare, it is my 
belief that art and artists in general have had comparatively little 
influence upon human history and everyday life. It is for that 
reason that Michelangelo, despite his eminence as an artistic 
genius, appears lower on this list than many scientists and inven- 
tors, many of whom are far less famous than he. 

“God Dividing the Waters from the Earth,” section of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. 

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Pope Urban II 259 

Not many people today remember Pope Urban II. Yet there have 
been few men whose impact on human history has been so ob- 
vious and so direct, for Urban II was the pope whose call for a 
Christian war to recapture the Holy Land from the Moslems in- 
augurated the Crusades. 

Urban, whose original name was Odo de Lagery, was born 
about 1042, near the city of Chatillon-sur-Marne in France. He 
came from a great family of French nobles, and he received a 
good education. As a young man, he was an archdeacon at 
Reims. Later, he became successively a Cluniac monk, a prior, 
and a cardinal-bishop, before his election as pope in 1088. 

Urban was a strong, effective, and politically astute pope, 
but this is not what has earned him a place in this book. The 
action for which Urban II is principally remembered occurred on 
November 27, 1095. He had convoked a great church council, 
held at the city of Clermont in France. There, before a crowd of 
thousands, Urban delivered what was perhaps the single most 
effective speech in history—one that was to influence Europe for 
centuries to come. In his speech, Urban protested that the Seljuk 
Turks, who were occupying the Holy Land, were defiling the 
Christian holy places and molesting Christian pilgrims. Urban 
urged that all Christendom join together in a holy war—a great 
crusade to recapture the Holy Land for Christianity. But Urban 
was far too clever to appeal to altruistic motives alone. He 
pointed out that the Holy Land was fruitful and wealthy—far 
richer than the overcrowded lands of Christian Europe. Finally, 
the Pope announced, participation in the crusade would take the 
place of all penances and assure the crusader of remission of all 
his sins. 

Urban’s brilliant speech, which appealed at the same time 
to his listeners’ highest motives and to their most selfish ones, 
aroused passionate enthusiasm in his audience. Before he had 
finished, the multitude was shouting, “Deus le volt!” (God wills 
it), which was soon to become the battle cry of the crusaders. 
Within a few months, the First Crusade was under way. It was 
to be followed by a long series of holy wars (there were eight 

260 THE 100 

major crusades and many smaller ones), which took place over a 
period of roughly two hundred years. 

As for Urban himself, he died in 1099, two weeks after the 
First Crusade succeeded in capturing Jerusalem, but before news 
of that capture had reached him. 

It hardly seems necessary to explain the importance of the 
Crusades. Like all wars, they had a direct influence upon the 
participants, and upon the civilian populations caught in their 
path. In addition, however, the Crusades had the effect of 
bringing western Europe into close contact with the Byzantine 
and Islamic civilizations, which at that time were considerably 
more advanced than western Europe. That contact helped 
prepare the way for the Renaissance, which in turn led to the full 
flowering of modern European civilization. 

Pope Urban II is on this list not only because of the enor- 
mous significance of the Crusades, but also because it is unlikely 
that they would have taken place without his inspiration. Ob- 
viously, conditions were ripe; otherwise his speech would have 
fallen upon deaf ears. However, to start a general European 
movement, the leadership of some central figure was needed. No 
national king could have done it. (Had a German emperor, for 
example, declared a holy war against the Turks, and led his 
armies on a crusade, it is doubtful that many English knights 
would have joined him.) There was only one figure in western 
Europe whose authority transcended national boundaries. Only 
the Pope could propose a project for all western Christendom to 
engage in, with a hope that large numbers of persons would 
follow his suggestion. Without the leadership of the Pope, and 
the dramatic speech which he made, the Crusades, as a mass 
European movement, would probably never have begun. 

Nor were circumstances such that virtually any person 
holding the papal office would have proposed a crusade to 
liberate the Holy Land. On the contrary, it was in many ways an 
impractical suggestion. Most prudent leaders would be very 
reluctant to make an unusual proposal, the consequences of 
which were so difficult to predict. But Urban II dared to do so; 
and by so doing he had a greater and more enduring effect on 
human history than many far more famous men. 




Shae a 
~ —_ 
pa eS ELAS ee 


Mosque in Cairo 
named after ‘Umar 
ibn al-Khattab. 


c. 586-644 

“Umar ibn al-Khattab was the second, and probably the greatest, 
of the Moslem caliphs. He was a younger contemporary of 
Muhammad, and like the Prophet, was born in Mecca. The year 
of his birth is unknown, but was perhaps about 586. 
‘Umar was originally one of the most bitter opponents of 
Muhammad and his new religion. Rather suddenly, however, 
‘Umar became converted to Islam, and thereafter was one of its et oe PS 
strongest supporters. (The parallel with the conversion of St. | | 
Paul to Christianity is striking.) ‘Umar became one of the closest 
advisors of the prophet Muhammad, and remained so 
throughout Muhammad's life. 
In 632, Muhammad died without having named a suc- 
cessor. ‘Umar promptly supported the candidacy of Abu Bakr, a 
close associate and father-in-law of the Prophet. This avoided a 
power struggle and enabled Abu Bakr to be generally recognized 




. & 

Athens ®@ 

_ Alexandria 

Moslem territory at the death 
of Muhammad, 632 A.D. 

Area controlled by Arabs at 
the death of 'Umar, 644 A.D. 


Arab expansion under 
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. 


264 THE 100 

as the first caliph (i.e., as the “successor” of Muhammad). Abu 
Bakr was a successful leader, but he died after serving as caliph 
for only two years. He had, however, specifically named ‘Umar 
(who was also a father-in-law of the Prophet) to succeed him, so 
once again a power struggle was avoided. ‘Umar became caliph 
in 634, and retained power until 644, when he was assassinated 
in Medina by a Persian slave. On his deathbed, ‘Umar named a 
committee of six persons to choose his successor, thereby again 
averting an armed struggle for power. The committee chose 
Othman, the third caliph, who ruled from 644 to 656. 

It was during the ten years of ‘Umar’s caliphate that the 
most important conquests of the Arabs occurred. Not long after 
‘Umar’s accession, Arab armies invaded Syria and Palestine, 
which at that time were part of the Byzantine Empire. At the 
Battle of the Yarmuk (636), the Arabs won a crushing victory 
over the Byzantine forces. Damascus fell the same year, and 
Jerusalem surrendered two years later. By 641, the Arabs had 
conquered all of Palestine and Syria, and were advancing into 
present-day Turkey. In 639, Arab armies invaded Egypt, which 
had also been under Byzantine rule. Within three years, the Arab 
conquest of Egypt was complete. 

Arab attacks upon Iraq, at that time part of the Sassanid 
Empire of the Persians, had commenced even before ‘Umar took 
office. The key Arab victory, at the battle of Qadisiya (637) oc- 
curred during ‘Umar’s reign. By 641, all of Iraq was under Arab 
control. Nor was that all: Arab armies invaded Persia itself, and 
at the battle of Nehavend (642) they decisively defeated the 
forces of the last Sassanid emperor. By the time ‘Umar died, in 
644, most of western Iran had been overrun. Nor had the Arab 
armies run out of momentum when ‘Umar died. In the East, they 
fairly soon completed the conquest of Persia, while in the West 
they continued their push across North Africa. 

Just as important as the extent of ‘Umar’s conquests is their 
permanence. Iran, though its population became converted to 
Islam, eventually regained its independence from Arab rule. But 
Syria, Iraq, and Egypt never did. Those countries became 
thoroughly Arabized and remain so to this day. 

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab 265 

‘Umar, of course, had to devise policies for the rule of the 
great empire that his armies had conquered. He decided that the 
Arabs were to be a privileged military caste in the regions they 
had conquered, and that they should live in garrison cities, apart 
from the natives. The subject peoples were to pay tribute to their 
Moslem (largely Arab) conquerors, but were otherwise to be left 
in peace. In particular, they were not to be forcibly converted to 
Islam. (From the above, it is clear that the Arab conquest was 
more a nationalist war of conquest than a holy war, although the 
religious aspect was certainly not lacking.) 

‘Umar’s achievements are impressive indeed. After Muham- 
mad himself, he was the principal figure in the spread of Islam. 
Without his rapid conquests, it is doubtful that Islam would be 
nearly as widespread today as it actually is. Furthermore, most 
of the territory conquered during his reign has remained Arab 
ever since. Obviously, of course, Muhammad, who was the 
prime mover, should receive the bulk of the credit for those 
developments. But it would be a grave mistake to ignore ‘Umar’s 
contribution. The conquests he made were not an automatic con- 
sequence of the inspiration provided by Muhammad. Some ex- 
pansion was probably bound to occur, but not to the enormous 
extent that it did under ‘Umar’s brilliant leadership. 

It may occasion some surprise that ‘Umar—a figure virtual- 
ly unknown in the West—has been ranked higher than such 
famous men as Charlemagne and Julius Caesar. However, the 
conquests made by the Arabs under ‘Umar, taking into account 
both their size and their duration, are substantially more impor- 
tant than those of either Caesar or Charlemagne. 

Asoka issued edicts on 
stone pillars, such as 

this one which stands 

at Lauriya-Nandangarh. 



c. 300 B.c.-c. 232 B.C. 

Asoka, who was probably the most important monarch in the 
history of India, was the third ruler of the Mauryan dynasty and 
the grandson of its founder, Chandragupta Maurya. Chan- 
dragupta was an Indian military leader, who in the years subse- 
quent to the campaign of Alexander the Great, conquered most 
of northern India, and thereby established the first major empire 
in Indian history. 

The year of Asoka’s birth is unknown; probably it was close 
to 300 B.c. Asoka ascended the throne about 273 s.c. At first he 
followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and sought to extend his 
territory through military action. In the eighth year of his reign, 


Asoka 267 

he concluded a successful war against Kalinga, a state on the east 
coast of India (about where the present state of Orissa is). But 
when he realized the horrible human cost of his triumph, Asoka 
was appalled. One hundred thousand persons had been killed, 
and an even larger number wounded. Shocked and remorseful, 
Asoka decided that he would not complete the military conquest 
of India, but would instead renounce all aggressive warfare. He 
adopted Buddhism as his religious philosophy, and attempted to 
practice the virtues of dharma, which include truthfulness, mer- 
cy, and nonviolence. 

On a personal level, Asoka gave up hunting and became a 
vegetarian. Of more significance were the various humane and 
political policies that he adopted. He established hospitals and 
animal sanctuaries, mitigated many harsh laws, built roads, and 
promoted irrigation. He even appointed special government of- 
ficials, dharma officers, to instruct people in piety and to en- 
courage friendly human relationships. All religions were 
tolerated in his realm, but Asoka particularly promoted Bud- 
dhism, which naturally enjoyed a great increase in its popularity. 
Buddhist missions were sent to many foreign countries, and were 
especially successful in Ceylon. 

Asoka ordered descriptions of his life and policies inscribed 
on rocks and pillars throughout his large realm. Many of these 
monuments survive to the present day. Their geographic 
distribution provides us with reliable information concerning the 
extent of Asoka’s domain, and the inscriptions on them are our 
main source of knowledge of his career. Incidentally, these 
pillars are also considered to be superb works of art. 

Within fifty years of Asoka’s death, the Mauryan Empire 
fell apart, and it was never revived. However, through his sup- 
port of Buddhism, Asoka’s long-term influence upon the world 
has been very large. When he ascended the throne, Buddhism 
was a small, local religion, popular only in northwest India. By 
the time of his death, it had adherents throughout India and was 
spreading rapidly to neighboring countries. More than any one 
man, except Gautama himself, Asoka is responsible for the 
development of Buddhism into a major world religion. 




Augustine, who lived during the declining years of the Roman 
Empire, was the greatest theologian of his era. His writings pro- 
foundly influenced Christian doctrines and attitudes throughout 
the Middle Ages, and indeed still have influence today. 
Augustine was born in 354, in the town of Tagaste (now 
Souk-Ahras, in Algeria), about forty-five miles south of the large 
coastal town of Hippo (now Annaba). His father was a pagan; 
his mother a devout Christian. He was not baptized as an infant. 
Even in his adolescence, Augustine’s intelligence was im- 
pressive, and at sixteen he was sent to Carthage to study. There 
he took a mistress and had an illegitimate child. At nineteen, he 

St. Augustine 269 

decided to study philosophy. He soon converted to Manichaeism, 
the religion founded about 240 by the prophet Mani. To the 
young Augustine, Christianity seemed unsophisticated, while 
Manichaeism appealed to his reason. However, over the course 
of the next nine years, he gradually became disillusioned with 
Manichaeism. When Augustine was twenty-nine, he moved to 
Rome. A bit later he moved to Milan, in northern Italy, where he 
became a professor of rhetoric. There he became familiar with 
Neoplatonism, a modified version of Plato’s philosophy that had 
been developed by Plotinus in the third century. 

_ The bishop in Milan at that time was St. Ambrose. 
Augustine listened to some of his sermons, which introduced him 
to a new, more sophisticated aspect of Christianity. At the age of 
thirty-two, Augustine was converted, and the one-time skeptic 
became an ardent proponent of Christianity. In 387, Augustine 
was baptized by Ambrose, and soon thereafter he returned home 
to Tagaste. 

In 391, Augustine became the assistant to the bishop of Hip- 
po. Five years later the bishop died, and Augustine, then forty- 
two years old, became the new bishop of Hippo. He remained at 
that post for the rest of his life. 

Although Hippo was not an important city, Augustine’s 
brilliance was so obvious that he soon became one of the most 
respected leaders in the church. Although he had a weak con- 
stitution, with the help of stenographers he was able to compose 
a large number of religious writings. About 500 of his sermons 
survive, as do more than 200 of his letters. Of his books, the two 
most famous and influential are The City of God and his Confes- 
sions. The latter, which is one of the most famous autobio- 
graphies ever written, was composed when he was in his forties. 

Many of Augustine’s letters and sermons are devoted to 
refuting the beliefs of the Manichaeans, the Donatists (a 
schismatic Christian sect), and the Pelagians (another heretical 
Christian group of the day). His dispute with the Pelagians forms 
an important part of Augustine’s religious doctrines. Pelagius 
was an English monk who came to Rome about 400, and there 

270 THE 100 

expounded several interesting theological doctrines. We are 
each, Pelagius claimed, without original sin, and are free to 
choose good or evil. By righteous living and good works, an in- 
dividual can attain salvation. 

Partly through the influence of St. Augustine’s writings, the 
views of Pelagius were declared heretical, and Pelagius himself 
(who had already been banished from Rome) was excom- 
municated. According to Augustine, all men are stained with 
Adam’s sin. Human beings are unable to attain salvation solely 
through their own efforts and good works: the grace of God is 
necessary for salvation. Similar ideas had been expressed 
previously; however, Augustine amplified the earlier statements, 
and his writings solidified the Church’s position on these points, 
which thereafter became fixed. 

Augustine maintained that God already knows who will be 
saved and who will not, and that some of us are therefore 
predestined to be saved. This idea of predestination was to great- 
ly influence later theologians, such as St. Thomas Aquinas and 
John Calvin. 

Probably even more important than the doctrine of 
predestination were St. Augustine’s attitudes concerning sex. 
When he converted to Christianity, Augustine had decided that 
it was necessary for him to renounce sex. (He once wrote, 
“Nothing is so much to be shunned as sex relations.”) However, 
the actual renunciation proved quite difficult for St. Augustine; 
both his personal struggle and his views on the subject are 
described at some length in his Confessions. The views he ex- 
pressed there, because of Augustine’s great reputation, exerted a 
strong influence upon medieval attitudes toward sex. Augustine’s 
writings also linked together the notion of original sin and sexual 

During Augustine’s life, the Roman Empire was rapidly 
declining. In fact, in 410, the city of Rome was sacked by the 
Visigoths under Alaric. Naturally, the remaining Roman pagans 
claimed that the Romans were thereby being punished for their 
desertion of their ancient gods in favor of Christianity. St. 

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Augustine dictates to a scribe. 

Augustine’s most famous book, The City of God, is in part a 
defense of Christianity against that charge. However, the book 
also includes an entire philosophy of history, one that was to have 
considerable influence upon later developments in Europe. 
Augustine expressed the view that the Roman Empire was not of 
any basic importance, nor was the city of Rome, nor any earthly 
city. What was really important was the growth of the “heavenly 
city’—in other words, the spiritual progress of mankind. The 
vehicle for this progress was, of course, the Church. (“There is no 
salvation outside the Church.’’) It therefore followed that 


272 THE 100 

emperors, whether pagan or Christian or barbarian, were not as 
important as the Pope and the Church were. 

Although Augustine himself did not take the final step, the 
thrust of his argument leads easily to the conclusion that 
temporal rulers should be subordinate to the Pope. Medieval 
popes were glad to draw that conclusion from Augustine, and his 
doctrines therefore laid the foundation for the long conflict be- 
tween Church and State that was to characterize European 
history for many centuries. 

Augustine’s writings were a factor in the transmission of 
certain aspects of Greek philosophy to medieval Europe. In 
particular, Neoplatonism strongly influenced Augustine’s mature 
thought, and through Augustine it influenced medieval Christian 
philosophy. It is also interesting to note that Augustine expressed 
the idea behind Descartes’ famous statement, “I think, therefore 
I am,” though in different words, of course. 

Augustine was the last great Christian theologian before the 
Dark Ages, and his writings left Church doctrine, in all its major 
outlines, in roughly the form it was to keep throughout the 
Middle Ages. He was the most eminent of the Latin Church 
fathers, and his writings were widely read by the clergy. His 
views on salvation, sex, original sin, and many other points were 
correspondingly influential. Many later Catholic theologians, 
such as St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as Protestant leaders such as 
Luther and Calvin, were strongly influenced by him. 

Augustine died in Hippo, in 430 a.p., in his seventy-sixth 
year. The Vandals, one of the barbarian tribes which had 
invaded the disintegrating Roman Empire, were besieging 
Hippo at the time. A few months later, they captured the town 
and burned most of it; however, Augustine’s library and the 
cathedral escaped destruction. 



William Harvey, the great English physician who discovered the 
circulation of the blood and the function of the heart, was born 
in 1578, in the town of Folkestone, England. Harvey’s great 
book, An Anatomical Treatise on the Movement of the Heart and 
Blood in Animals, published in 1628, has rightly been called the 
most important book in the entire history of physiology. It is, in 
fact, the starting point of the modern science of physiology. Its 
primary importance lies not in its direct applications, but rather 
in the basic understanding it provides of how the human body 

For us today, who have been brought up with the 
knowledge that the blood circulates, and therefore take that fact 
for granted, Harvey’s theory seems completely obvious. But what 
now appears so simple and evident was not obvious at all to 


274 THE 100 

earlier biologists. Leading writers on biology had expounded 
views such as: (a) food is turned into blood in the heart; (b) the 
heart heats up the blood; (c) the arteries are filled with air; (d) 
the heart manufactures “vital spirits”; (e) blood in both the veins 
and the arteries ebbs and flows, sometimes going toward the 
heart and sometimes away. 

Galen, the greatest physician of the ancient world, a man 
who personally performed many dissections and thought careful- 
ly about the heart and blood vessels, never suspected that the 
blood circulates. Nor for that matter did Aristotle, though biol- 
ogy was one of his major interests. Even after the publication of 
Harvey’s book, many physicians were unwilling to accept his 
idea that the blood in the human body is constantly being recir- 
culated through a closed system of blood vessels, with the heart 
supplying the force to move the blood. 

Harvey first formed the notion that the blood circulates by 
making a simple arithmetic calculation. He estimated that the 
quantity of blood that was ejected by the heart every time it beat 
was about two ounces. Since the heart beats about 72 times per 
minute, simple multiplication led to the conclusion that about 
540 pounds of blood were ejected each hour from the heart into 
the aorta. But 540 pounds far exceeds the total body weight of a 
normal human being, and even more greatly exceeds the weight 
of the blood alone. It therefore seemed obvious to Harvey that 
the same blood was constantly recycled through the heart. 
Having formulated this hypothesis, he spent nine years perform- 
ing experiments and making careful observations to determine 
the details of the circulation of the blood. 

In his book, Harvey clearly stated that the arteries carry 
blood away from the heart, while the veins return the blood to 
the heart. Lacking a microscope, Harvey was unable to see the 
capillaries, the minute blood vessels that transport the blood 
from the smallest arteries to the veins, but he correctly inferred 
their existence. (The capillaries were discovered by the Italian 
biologist, Malpighi, a few years after Harvey died.) 

Harvey also stated that the function of the heart was to 

William Harvey 275 

pump the blood into the arteries. On this, as on every other 
major point, Harvey’s theory was essentially correct. Further- 
more, he presented a wealth of experimental evidence, with 
careful arguments to support his theory. Though his theory at 
first encountered strong opposition, by the end of his life it had 
been generally accepted. 

Harvey also did work on embryology, which, though less 
important than his research on blood circulation, was not in- 
significant. He was a careful observer, and his book, On the 
Generation of Animals, published in 1651, marks the real begin- 

Harvey explains his ideas to Charles I. 

276 THE 100 

ning of the modern study of embryology. Like Aristotle, by 
whom he was strongly influenced, Harvey opposed the theory of 
preformation—the hypothesis that an embryo, even in its earliest 
stages, had the same overall structure as the adult animal, 
though on a much smaller scale. Harvey correctly asserted that 
the final structure of an embryo developed gradually. 

Harvey had a long, interesting, and successful life. In his 
teens, he attended Caius College at the University of Cambridge. 
In 1600, he went to Italy to study medicine at the University of 
Padua, at that time perhaps the best medical school in the world. 
(It might be noted that Galileo was a professor at Padua while 
Harvey was there, although it is not known whether the two ever 
met.) Harvey received his medical degree from Padua in 1602. 
He then returned to England, where he had a long and very suc- 
cessful career as a physician. Among his patients were two kings 
of England (James I and Charles I), as well as the eminent 
philosopher Francis Bacon. Harvey lectured on anatomy at the 
College of Physicians in London, and in fact was once elected 
president of the College. (He declined the post.) In addition to 
his private practice, he was for many years the chief physician at 
St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. When his book on the 
circulation of the blood was published, in 1628, it made him 
famous throughout Europe. Harvey was married, but had no 
children. He died in 1657, in London, at the age of seventy-nine. 

” — Illustration from 
- William Harvey’s 
we _ book On the 
~ Movement of the 
~ Heart and Blood in 
- Animals. 



Ernest Rutherford is generally considered to have been the great- 
est experimental physicist of the twentieth century. He is the cen- 
tral figure in our knowledge of radioactivity, and is also the man 
who originated the study of nuclear physics. In addition to their 
enormous theoretical importance, his discoveries have had a wide 
range of important applications including: nuclear weapons, nu- 
clear power plants, radioactive tracers, and radioactive dating. His 
influence on the world has therefore been profound, is probably 
still growing, and will likely be enduring. 


278 THE 100 

Rutherford was born and raised in New Zealand. He attended 
Canterbury College there, obtaining three degrees (B.A., M.A., 
B.Sc.) by the time he was twenty-three. The following year he was 
awarded a scholarship to Cambridge University in England, where 
he spent three years as a research student under J. J. Thomson, 
one of the leading scientists of the day. When he was twenty-seven 
he became professor of physics at McGill University in Canada, 
where he stayed for nine years. He went back to England in 1907 
to head the physics department at Manchester University. In 1919 
he returned to Cambridge, this time as Director of the Cavendish 
Laboratory, and he remained there for the rest of his life. 

Radioactivity had been discovered in 1896 by the French sci- 
entist Antoine Henri Becquerel, while he was doing some experi- 
ments with uranium compounds. But Becquerel soon lost interest 
in the subject, and most of our basic knowledge in the field comes 
from Rutherford’s extensive research. (Marie and Pierre Curie 
found two more radioactive elements—polonium and radium—but 
made no discoveries of fundamental importance.) 

One of Rutherford’s first findings was that the radioactive 
emissions from uranium consist of two quite different components, 
which he called alpha rays and beta rays. He later demonstrated 
the nature of each component (they consist of fast-moving particles) 
and showed that there is also a third component, which he called 
gamma rays. 

An important feature of radioactivity is the energy involved. 
Becquerel, the Curies, and most other scientists had thought that 
the energy had an external source. But Rutherford proved that the 
energy involved—which was much greater than that released in 
chemical reactions—was coming from the interior of the individual 
uranium atoms! By so doing, he originated the important concept 
of atomic energy. 

Scientists had always assumed that individual atoms were in- 
destructible and unchangeable. But Rutherford (with the aide of a 
very talented young assistant, Frederick Soddy), was able to show 
that whenever an atom emits alpha or beta rays it is transformed 

Ernest Rutherford 279 

into an atom of a different sort. At first, chemists found this hard 
to believe; but Rutherford and Soddy worked out the whole series 
of radioactive decays that transform uranium to lead. He also meas- 
ured the rates of decay and formulated the important concept of 
“half-life.” This soon led to the technique of radioactive dating, 
which has become one of the most useful of scientific tools, with 
important applications in geology, archaeology, astronomy, and 
many other fields. 

This stunning set of discoveries earned Rutherford a Nobel 
prize in 1908 (Soddy later received a Nobel prize also), but his 
greatest achievement was yet to come. He had noticed that fast- 
moving alpha particles could go right through a thin foil of gold 
(leaving no visible puncture!), although they were slightly deflected 
by the passage. This suggested that gold atoms, rather than being 
hard, impenetrable objects, like “tiny billiard balls’—as scientists 
had previously believed—were soft inside! It seemed as if the 
smaller, harder alpha particles could go right through the gold 
atoms like a high-speed bullet going through jello. 

But Rutherford (working with Geiger and Marsden, two 
younger associates) found that some of the alpha particles were 
sharply deflected when they struck the gold foil; in fact, some even 
bounced right back! Rutherford, sensing that something important 
was involved, had the experiment repeated many times, carefully 
counting the number of particles scattered in each direction. Then, 
by a very difficult but utterly convincing mathematical analysis, he 
showed that there was only one way of explaining the experimental 
results: A gold atom consisted almost entirely of empty space, with 
almost all of the atom’s mass concentrated in a minute “nucleus” 
in the center! . , 

At a single blow, Rutherford’s paper (1911) shattered forever 
our common-sense picture of the world. If even a piece of metal— 
seemingly the solidest of objects—was mostly empty space, then 
everything which we had regarded as substantial had suddenly 
dissolved into tiny specks rushing about in an immense void! 

Rutherford’s discovery of the atomic nucleus is the foundation 

280 THE 100 

of all modern theories of atomic structure. When Niels Bohr, two 
years later, published his famous paper describing the atom as a 
miniature solar system governed by quantum mechanics, he used 
Rutherford’s nuclear atom as the starting point of his model. So did 
Heisenberg and Schrodinger when they constructed their more 
sophisticated atomic models using matrix mechanics and wave me- 

Rutherford’s discovery also led to a new branch of science: the 
study of the nucleus itself. In this field too, Rutherford proved to 
be a pioneer. In 1919, he succeeded in transforming nitrogen nu- 
clei into oxygen nuclei by bombarding them with fast-moving alpha 
particles. It was an achievement to dazzle the dreams of the ancient 

It was soon realized that nuclear transformations might be the 
source of the Sun's energy. Furthermore, inducing the transforma- 
tion of atomic nuclei is the key process in atomic weapons, and 
also in nuclear power plants. Rutherford’s discovery has therefore 
been of far more than academic interest. 

Rutherford’s “larger than life” personality constantly im- 
pressed those who met him. He was a big man, with a loud voice, 
boundless energy and confidence, and a conspicuous lack of mod- 
esty. When a colleague commented on Rutherford’s uncanny abil- 
ity to always be “on the crest of the wave” of scientific research, he 
replied promptly, “Well, why not? After all, I made the wave, didn't 
I!” Few scientists would disagree with that assessment. 

ov iy 
JOHN |e 


The famous Protestant theologian and moralist John Calvin 
is one of the major figures of European history. His views on such 
diverse subjects as theology, government, personal morality, and 
work habits have, over a period of more than 400 years, influ- 
enced the lives of hundreds of millions of people. 

John Calvin (original name: Jean Cauvin) was born in 1509, 
in the town of Noyon, in France. He received a good education. 
After attending the Collége de Montaigu in Paris, he went to the 
University of Orléans to study law. He also studied law at 

Calvin was only eight years old when Martin Luther posted 
his Ninety-five Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, and 
thereby inaugurated the Protestant Reformation. Calvin was 
brought up as a Catholic, but as a young man he converted to 
Protestantism. To avoid persecution, he soon left Paris, where he 
had been living, and after traveling about for a while, settled in 


282 THE 100 

Basel, Switzerland. There he lived under a pseudonym while he 
studied theology intensively. In 1536, when he was twenty-seven 
years old, he published his best-known work, the Institutes of the 
Christian Religion. This book, which summarized the essential 
Protestant beliefs and presented them in comprehensive and 
systematic form, made him famous. . 

Later in 1536, he visited Geneva, Switzerland, where Pro- 
testantism was rapidly gaining in strength. He was asked to stay 
there as a teacher and leader of the Protestant community. But 
conflicts soon arose between the fiercely puritanical Calvin and 
the Genevans, and in 1538, he was forced to leave the city. In 
1541, however, he was invited to return. He did so, and he 
became not only the religious leader of the city, but also its effec- 
tive political leader until his death in 1564. 

In theory, Calvin was never a dictator in Geneva: many of 
the townspeople had voting rights, and much of the formal 
political authority was held by a council which consisted of 
twenty-five persons. Calvin was not a member of this council. 
He was subject to removal at any time (and was, in fact, expelled 
in 1538) if he did not have the consent of the majority. In prac- 
tice, though, Calvin dominated the city, and after 1555 he was a 
virtual autocrat. 

Under Calvin’s leadership, Geneva became the leading Pro- 
testant center of Europe. Calvin consistently tried to promote the 
growth of Protestantism in other countries, particularly in 
France, and for a while Geneva was referred to as the “Protes- 
tant Rome.” One of the first things that Calvin did after his 
return to Geneva was to draw up a set of ecclesiastical regula- 
tions for the Reformed Church there. These were to set a pattern 
for many other Reformed Churches in Europe. While in Geneva, 
- Calvin wrote many influential religious tracts, and continued to 
revise the Institutes of the Christian Religion. He also gave many 
lectures on theology and the Bible. 

Calvin’s Geneva was a rather austere and puritanical place. 
Not only were adultery and fornication considered serious 
crimes, but gambling, drunkenness, dancing, and the singing of 

John Calvin 283 

ribald songs were all prohibited, and could result in severe 
punishment. Attendance at church during prescribed hours was 
required by law, and lengthy sermons were customary. 

Calvin strongly encouraged diligence in work. He also 
encouraged education, and it was during his administration that 
the University of Geneva was founded. 

Calvin was an intolerant man, and those whom he con- 
sidered heretics received short shrift in Geneva. His most famous 
victim (there were quite a few) was Michael Servetus, a Spanish 
physician and theologian who did not believe in the doctrine of 
the Trinity. When Servetus came to Geneva, he was arrested, 

tried for heresy, and burnt at the stake (in 1553). In addition, — 

several persons suspected of witchcraft were burnt at the stake 
during Calvin’s administration. 

Calvin died in Geneva, in 1564. He had married, but his 
wife had died in 1549, and their only child had died at birth. 

Calvin’s principal importance lies not in his direct political 
activities, but rather in the ideology he promulgated. He stressed 
the authority and importance of the Bible, and like Luther, 
denied the authority and importance of the Roman Catholic 
Church. Like Luther, St. Augustine, and St. Paul, Calvin held 
that all men are sinners, and that salvation comes not through 
good works, but through faith alone. Particularly striking were 
Calvin’s ideas on predestination and reprobation. According to 
Calvin, God -has already decided—and without regard to 
merit— who is to be saved and who is to be damned. Why, then, 
should an individual bother to behave morally? Calvin’s answer 
was that the “elect” (that is, those persons whom God has chosen 
to accept Christ and thereby achieve redemption) have also been 
selected by God to behave righteously. We are not saved because 
we do good, but we do good because we have been chosen for 
salvation. Although such a doctrine may seem strange to some, 
there seems little doubt that it has inspired many Calvinists to 
lead unusually pious and upright lives. 

Calvin has exerted great influence on the world. His 
theological doctrines ultimately gained even more adherents 

284 THE 100 

than Luther’s did. Though northern Germany and Scandinavia 
became predominantly Lutheran, Switzerland and the Nether- 
lands became Calvinist. There were significant Calvinist minor- 
ities in Poland, Hungary, and Germany. The Presbyterians in 
Scotland were Calvinists, as were the Huguenots in France and 
the Puritans in England. Puritan influence in America, of course, 
has been both long and strong. 

Calvin’s Geneva may have been more a theocracy than a 
democracy, but the net effect of Calvinism has nevertheless been 
to increase democracy. Perhaps the fact that in so many countries 
the Calvinists were a minority made them inclined to favor 
restrictions on established power; or perhaps the comparatively 
democratic internal organization of the Calvinist churches was a 
factor. Whatever the reason, the original Calvinist strongholds 
(Switzerland, Holland, and Great Britain) became strongholds 
of democracy as well. 

It has been claimed that Calvinist doctrines were a major 
factor in the création of the so-called “Protestant work ethic,” 
and in the rise of capitalism. It is difficult to judge the extent to 
which that claim is justified. The Dutch, for example, were 

This monument in Geneva commemorates the 
Reformation; a statue of Calvin is at the extreme left. 

y EDR ae 


John Calvin 285 

reputed to be an industrious people long before Calvin had ever 
been born. On the other hand, it seems unreasonable to assume 
that Calvin’s firmly expressed attitude toward hard work had no 
influence upon his followers. (It might be noted that Calvin did 
permit the charging of interest, a practice which had been con- 
demned by most earlier Christian moralists, but one that was im- 
portant to the development of capitalism.) 

How high on this list should Calvin be ranked? The in- 
fluence of Calvin has been confined primarily to western Europe 
and North America. Furthermore, it is plain that his influence 
has been sharply declining during the last century. In any case, 
much of the credit for the existence of Calvinism has already 
been assigned to earlier figures such as Jesus, St. Paul, and 

Although the Protestant Reformation was an event of great 
historical importance, it is plain that Martin Luther was the per- 
son most responsible for that upheaval. Calvin himself was only 
one of several influential Protestant leaders who arose after 
Luther. It is therefore quite clear that Calvin must be ranked far 
below Luther. On the other hand, Calvin must be ranked well 
ahead of such philosophers as Voltaire and Rousseau, partly 
because his influence has extended over twice as long a period as 
theirs, and partly because his ideas have had such a profound ef- 
fect on the lives of his followers. 




Gregor Mendel is famous today as the man who discovered the 
basic principles of heredity. During his lifetime, however, he was 
an obscure Austrian monk and amateur scientist, whose brilliant 
research was ignored by the scientific world. 

Mendel was born in 1822, in the town of Heinzendorf, at 
that time within the Austrian Empire, but now part of Czecho- 
slovakia. In 1843, he entered an Augustinian monastery in 
Brunn, Austria (now Brno, Czechoslovakia). He was ordained a 
priest in 1847. In 1850, he took an examination for teacher cer- 
tification. He failed, receiving his lowest marks in biology and 
geology! Nevertheless, the abbot in charge of his monastery sent 
Mendel to the University of Vienna, where, from 1851 to 1853, 
he studied mathematics and science. Mendel never did get a re- 

Gregor Mendel 287 

gular teacher’s license, but from 1854 to 1868, he was a substitute 
teacher of natural science at the Briinn Modern School. 

Meanwhile, starting in 1856, he performed his famous ex- 
periments in plant breeding. By 1865, he had derived his famous 
laws of heredity and presented them in a paper given before the 
Brunn Natural History Society. In 1866, his results were pub- 
lished in the Transactions of that society, in an article entitled 
“Experiments with Plant Hybrids.” A second article was publish- 
ed in the same journal three years later. Although the Transac- 
tions of the Brunn Natural History Society was not a prestigious 
journal, it was carried by major libraries. In addition, Mendel 
sent a copy of his paper to Karl Nageli, a leading authority on 
heredity. Nageli read the paper and replied to Mendel, but failed 
to comprehend the paper’s enormous importance. Thereafter, 
Mendel’s articles were generally ignored and, indeed, almost 
forgotten for over thirty years. 

In 1868, Mendel was appointed abbot of his chapter, and 
from then on his administrative duties left him little time to con- 
tinue his plant experiments. When he died, in 1884, at the age of 
sixty-one, his brilliant research had been nearly forgotten, and he 
had received no recognition for it. 

Mendel’s work was not rediscovered until the year 1900, 
when three different scientists (a Dutchman, Hugo de Vries; a 
German, Carl Correns; and an Austrian, Erich von Tschermak), 
working independently, came across Mendel’s article. Each of 
the three men had performed his own botanical experiments; 
each had independently discovered Mendel’s Laws; each, before 
publishing his results, had researched the literature and come 
across Mendel’s original article; and each carefully cited 
Mendel’s paper and stated that his own work confirmed Mendel’s 
conclusions. An astounding triple coincidence! Moreover, in that 
same year, William Bateson, an English scientist, came across 
Mendel’s original article and promptly drew it to the attention of 
other scientists. By the end of the year, Mendel was receiving the 
acclaim that he had so richly deserved during his lifetime. 

What were the facts about heredity that Mendel discovered? 

288 THE 100 

In the first place, Mendel learned that in all living organisms 
there were basic units, today called genes, by which inherited 
characteristics were transmitted from parent to offspring. In the 
plants that Mendel studied, each individual characteristic, such 
as seed color or leaf shape, was determined by a pair of genes. An 
individual plant inherited one gene of each pair from each 
parent. Mendel found that if the two genes inherited for a given 
trait were different (for example, one gene for green seeds and 
another gene for yellow seeds) then, normally, only the effect of 
the dominant gene (in this case for yellow seeds) would manifest 
itself in that individual. Nevertheless, the recessive gene was not 
destroyed and might be transmitted to the plant’s descendants. 
Mendel realized that each reproductive cell, or gamete (cor- 
responding to sperm or egg cells in human beings) contained only 
one gene of each pair. He also stated that it was completely a 
matter of chance which gene of each pair occurred in an in- 
dividual gamete and was transmitted to an individual offspring. 

Mendel’s laws, although they have been modified slightly, 
remain the starting point of the modern science of genetics. How 
is it that Mendel, an amateur scientist, was able to discover those 
important principles that had eluded so many eminent profes- 
sional biologists before him? Fortunately, he had selected for his 
investigations a species of plant whose most striking character- 
istics are each determined by a single set of genes. Had the 
characteristics he investigated each been determined by several 
sets of genes, his research would have been immensely more diffi- 
cult. But this piece of good luck would not have helped Mendel 
had he not been an extremely careful and patient experimenter, 
nor would it have helped him had he not realized that it was 
necessary to make a statistical analysis. of his observations. 
Because of the random factor mentioned above, it is generally 
not possible to predict which traits an individual offspring will 
inherit. Only by performing a large number of experiments 
(Mendel had recorded results for over 21,000 individual plants!) , 
and by analyzing his results statistically was Mendel able to de- 
duce his laws. 


The genetic patterns of the flower mirabilis jalapa. 

It is obvious that the laws of heredity are an important addi- 
tion to human knowledge, and our knowledge of genetics will 
probably have even more applications in the future than it has 
had so far. There is, however, another factor to be considered 
when deciding where Mendel should be placed. Since his 
discoveries were ignored during his lifetime, and his conclusions 
were rediscovered independently by later scientists, Mendel’s re- 
search might be deemed expendable. If that argument is pushed 
to its limit, one might conclude that Mendel should be left off 
this list entirely, just as Leif Ericson, Aristarchus, and Ignaz 


290 THE 100 

Semmelweiss have been omitted in favor of Columbus, Coper- 
nicus, and Joseph Lister. 

There are, however, differences between Mendel’s case and 
the others. Mendel’s work was forgotten only briefly, and once 
rediscovered, quickly became widely known. Furthermore, de 
Vries, Correns, and Tschermak, though they rediscovered his 
principles independently, eventually did read his paper and cite 
his results. Finally, one cannot rightly say that Mendel’s work 
would have had no influence if de Vries, Correns, and Tscher- 
mak had never lived. Mendel’s article had already been included 
in a widely circulated bibliography (by W. O. Focke) of works 
on heredity. That listing ensured that sooner or later some serious 
student in the field would come across Mendel’s article. It might 
be noted that none of the other three scientists ever claimed 
credit for the discovery of genetics; also, the scientific principles 
discovered are universally referred to as “Mendel’s Laws.” 

Mendel’s discoveries seem comparable, both in originality 
and importance, with Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the 
blood, and he has been ranked accordingly. 



In December 1900, the German physicist Max Planck startled the 
scientific world with his bold hypothesis that radiant energy 
(that is, the energy of light waves) is not emitted in a continuous 
flow, but rather consists of small chunks or lumps, which he 
called quanta. Planck’s hypothesis, which conflicted with the 
classical theories of light and electromagnetism, provided the 
starting point for the quantum theories which have since revolu- 
tionized physics and provided us with a deeper understanding of 
the nature of matter and radiation. 

Planck was born in 1858, in Kiel, Germany. He studied in 
the Universities of Berlin and Munich, and received his doctor’s 
degree in physics (summa cum laude) from the University of 
Munich when he was twenty-one years old. For a while he 


292 THE 100 

taught at the University of Munich, and then at Kiel University. 
In 1889, he became a professor at the University of Berlin, where 
he remained until his retirement in 1928, at the age of seventy. 

Planck, like several other scientists, was interested in the 
subject of black body radiation, which is the name given to the 
electromagnetic radiation emitted by a perfectly black object 
when it is heated. (A perfectly black object is defined as one that 
does not reflect any light, but completely absorbs all light falling 
on it.) Experimental physicists had already made careful 
measurements of the radiation emitted by such objects, even 
before Planck started working on the problem. Planck’s first 
achievement was his discovery of the fairly complicated 
algebraic formula that correctly describes the black body radi- 
ation. This formula, which is frequently used in theoretical 
physics today, neatly summarized the experimental data. But 
there was a problem: the accepted laws of physics predicted a 
quite different formula. 

Planck pondered deeply on this problem and finally came 
up with a radically new theory: radiant energy is only emitted in 
exact multiples of an elementary unit that Planck called the 
quantum. According to Planck’s theory, the magnitude of a 
quantum of light depends on the frequency of the light (i.e., on 
its color), and is also proportional to a physical quantity that 
Planck abbreviated h, but that is now called Planck’s constant. 
Planck’s hypothesis was quite contrary to the then prevalent con- 
cepts of physics; however, by using it he was able to find an exact 
theoretical derivation of the correct formula for black body 

Planck’s hypothesis was so revolutionary that it doubtless 
would have been dismissed as a crackpot idea, had not Planck 
been well-known as a solid, conservative physicist. Although the 
hypothesis sounded very strange, in this particular case it did 
lead to the correct formula. 

At first, most physicists (including Planck himself) regarded 
his hypothesis as no more than a convenient mathematical fic- 
tion. After a few years, though, it turned out that Planck’s con- 

Max Planck 293 

cept of the quantum could be applied to various physical 
phenomena other than black body radiation. Einstein used the 
concept in 1905 to explain the photoelectric effect, and Niels 
Bohr used it in 1913 in his theory of atomic structure. By 1918, 
when Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize, it was clear that his 
hypothesis was basically correct, and that it was of fundamental 
importance in physical theory. 

Planck’s strong anti-Nazi views placed him in considerable 
danger during the Hitler era. His younger son was executed in 
early 1945 for his role in the unsuccessful officers’ plot to assassi- 
nate Hitler. Planck himself died in 1947, at the age of eighty- 

The development of quantum mechanics is probably the 
most important scientific development of the twentieth century, 
more important even than Einstein’s theories of relativity. 
Planck’s constant, h, plays a vital role in physical theory, and is 
now recognized as one of the two or three most fundamental 
physical constants. It appears in the theory of atomic structure, 
in Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, in radiation theory, and in 
many scientific formulas. Planck’s original estimate of its 
numerical value was within 2 percent of the figure accepted 

Planck is generally considered to be the father of quantum 
mechanics. Although he played little part in the later develop- 
ment of the theory, it would be a mistake to rank Planck too low. 
The initial breakthrough which he provided was very important. 
It freed men’s minds from their earlier misconceptions, and it 
thereby enabled his successors to construct the far more elegant 
theory we have today. 




Joseph Lister, the British surgeon who introduced the use of an- 
tiseptic measures in surgery, was born in 1827, in Upton, 
England. In 1852, he received a medical degree from University 
College in London, where he had been an excellent student. In 
1861, he became surgeon at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, a posi- 
tion he was to hold for eight years. It was primarily during this 
period that he developed his method of antiseptic surgery. 

At the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Lister was in charge of the 
wards in the new surgical block. He was appalled by the high 
rate of postoperative mortality that occurred there. Serious infec- 
tions, such as gangrene, were a common aftermath of surgery. 
Lister tried to keep his wards generally clean; however, this did 
not prove sufficient to prevent a high mortality rate. Many doc- 
tors maintained that “miasmas’” (noxious vapors) about the 
hospital were the cause of these infections. However, this ex- 
planation did not satisfy Lister. 

Joseph Lister 295 

Then, in 1865, he read a paper by Louis Pasteur, which in- 
troduced him to the germ theory of disease. This provided Lister 
with his key idea. If infections were caused by microbes, then the 
best method of preventing postoperative infections would be to 
kill the microbes before they got into the open wound. Using car- 
bolic acid as a germ-killer, Lister instituted a new set of antisep- 
tic procedures. He not only cleaned his hands carefully before 
every operation, but made sure that the instruments and the 
dressings that were used were also rendered completely sanitary. 
Indeed, for a while he even sprayed carbolic acid into the air in 
the operating room. The result was a dramatic drop in 
postoperative fatalities. During the period 1861-1865, the 
postoperative mortality rate in the male accident ward had been 
45 percent. By 1869, it had been reduced to 15 percent. 

Lister’s first great paper on antiseptic surgery was published 
in 1867. His ideas were not immediately accepted. However, he 
was offered the Chair of Clinical Surgery at Edinburgh Universi- 
ty in 1869, and during his seven-year stay there his fame spread. 
In 1875, he toured Germany, lecturing on his ideas and methods; 
the following year, he made a similar tour in the United States. 
But the majority of doctors were not yet convinced. 

In 1877, Lister was given the Chair of Clinical Surgery at 
King’s College in London, a position that he held for over fifteen 
years. His demonstrations of antiseptic surgery in London arous- 
ed great interest in medical circles, and resulted in increased 
acceptance of his ideas. By the end of his life, Lister’s principles 
of antiseptic surgery had won virtually universal acceptance 
among physicians. 

Lister received many honors for his pioneering work. He 
was president of the Royal Society for five years, and was Queen 
Victoria’s personal surgeon. Married, but childless, Lister lived 
to be almost eighty-five. He died in 1912, in Walmer, England. 

Lister’s innovations have completely revolutionized the field 
of surgery, and have saved many millions of lives. Not only do far 
fewer people die today from postoperative infections, but today 
surgery saves many persons who would be unwilling to undergo 

296 THE 100 

operations if the danger of infection were as great now as it was a 
century ago. Furthermore, surgeons are now able to undertake 
complicated operations that they would never have attempted in 
earlier days, when the risk of infection was so great. A century 
ago, for example, operations that involved opening the chest 
cavity were not normally contemplated. Although present-day 
techniques of aseptic surgery are different from the antiseptic 
methods that Lister used, they involve the same basic ideas, and 
are an extension of Lister’s principles. 

One might claim that Lister’s ideas were such obvious cor- 
ollaries of Pasteur’s that Lister is not entitled to any significant 
credit. However, despite Pasteur’s writings, someone was re- 
quired to develop and popularize the techniques of antiseptic 
surgery. Nor does the inclusion of both Lister and Pasteur in this 
book amount to counting the same discovery twice. The applica- 
tions of the germ theory of disease are of such significance that, 
even when the credit is divided up, Pasteur, Leeuwenhoek, 
Fleming and Lister all are fully entitled to a place on this list. 

There is another possible objection to Lister’s being placed 
so high on this list. Almost twenty years before Lister did his 
work, the Hungarian doctor, Ignaz Semmelweiss (1818-1865), 
working in the Vienna General Hospital, had _ clearly 
demonstrated the advantages of antiseptic procedures, both in 
obstetrics and in surgery. However, although Semmelweiss 
became a professor and wrote an excellent book setting forth his 
ideas, he was by and large ignored. It was Joseph Lister whose 
writings, talks, and demonstrations actually convinced the 
medical profession of the necessity for antiseptic procedures in 
medical practice. 




Nikolaus August Otto was the German inventor who, in 1876, 
built the first four-stroke internal combustion engine, the proto- 
type of the hundreds of millions that have been built since then. 
The internal combustion engine is a versatile device: it is 
used to power motorboats and motorcycles; it has had many in- 
dustrial applications; and it was the vital requisite for the inven- 
tion of the airplane. (Until the first jet plane flew, in 1939, vir- 
tually all aircraft were powered by internal combustion engines 
working on the Otto cycle.) However, by far the most important 
use of the internal combustion engine is to power automobiles. 
There had been many attempts to construct automobiles 
hefore Otto developed his engine. Some inventors, such as 
Siegfried Marcus (in 1875), Etienne Lenoir (in 1862), and Nicolas 
Joseph Cugnot (about 1769), had even succeeded in building 
models that ran. But lacking a suitable type of engine—one 
capable of combining low weight with high power—none of 
those models was practical. However, within fifteen years of the 
invention of Otto’s four-stroke engine, two different inventors, 


298 THE 100 

Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, each constructed practical, 
marketable automobiles. Various other types of engines have 
since been used to power automobiles, and it is quite possible 
that in the future, cars powered by steam, or by electric bat- 
teries, or by some other device, will ultimately prove superior. 
But of the hundreds of millions of cars built in the past century, 
99 percent have used the four-stroke internal combustion engine. 
(The Diesel engine, an ingenious form of internal combustion 
engine which is used to power many trucks, buses, and ships, 
employs a four-stroke cycle basically similar to Otto’s, but the 
fuel is admitted at a different stage.) 

The great majority of scientific inventions (with the impor- 
tant exceptions of weapons and explosives) are generally conced- 
ed to be beneficial to mankind. It is rare, for example, that 
anyone suggests that we abandon refrigerators or penicillin, or 
that we seriously restrict their use. The drawbacks of the 
widespread use of private automobiles, however, are glaringly 
obvious. They are noisy, they cause air pollution, they consume 
scarce fuel resources, and each year they cause a ghastly toll of 
dead and injured persons. | 

Clearly, we would never consider putting up with the 
automobile if it did not provide us with enormous advantages as 
well. Private automobiles are infinitely more flexible than public 
transportation. Unlike railroads and subway trains, for example, 
a private automobile will leave whenever you wish, will take you 
wherever you want to go, and will provide door-to-door service. 
It is fast, comfortable, and carries luggage easily. By providing us 
with an unprecedented degree of choice about where we live and 
how we spend our time, it has considerably increased individual 
freedom. | 

Whether all these advantages are worth the price that the 
automobile exacts from society may be debatable, but no one 
denies that the automobile has had a major impact on our 
civilization. In the United States alone there are over 180 mil- 
lion cars in use. Together, they account for approximately three 
trillion passenger miles a year—more than the combined mileage 

Nikolaus August Otto 299 

traveled on foot, in airplanes, in trains, in boats, and by all other 
forms of transportation. 

To accommodate the automobile, we have built acres of 
parking lots and endless miles of superhighways, altering the 
whole landscape in the process. In return, the automobile pro- 
vides us with a mobility scarcely dreamed of by earlier genera- 
tions. Most car owners now have a vastly larger range of ac- 
tivities and facilities readily available than they could possibly 
have had without the automobile. It widens our choice of where 
we work and where we can live. Thanks to the automobile, 
numerous facilities that previously were only available to urban 
dwellers are now available to those who live in the suburbs. (This 
has perhaps been the principal underlying cause of the growth of 
the suburbs in recent decades and the concomitant decline of the 
inner cities in the United States.) 

Nikolaus August Otto was born in 1832, in the town of 
Holzhausen, in Germany. His father died when he was an in- 
fant. Otto was a good student; however, he dropped out of high 
school at the age of sixteen to get a job and to gain business ex- 
perience. For a while, he worked in a grocery store in a small 
town. Later, he was a clerk in Frankfurt. After that, he became 
a traveling salesman. 

About 1860, Otto heard of the gas engine recently invented 
by Etienne Lenoir (1822-1900), the first workable internal com- 
bustion engine. Otto realized that the Lenoir engine would have 
many more applications if it could run on liquid fuel, since in 
that case it would not have to be attached to a gas outlet. Otto 
soon devised a carburetor; his patent application was denied by 
the patent office, however, because similar devices had already 
been invented. 

Undiscouraged, Otto devoted his efforts to improving the 
Lenoir engine. As early as 1861, he hit upon the idea of a basical- 
ly new type of engine, one operating on a four-stroke cycle 
(unlike Lenoir’s primitive engine which operated on a two-stroke 
cycle). In January 1862, Otto built a working model of his four- 
_ stroke engine. But he ran into difficulties, especially with the 

300 THE 100 

ignition, in making this new engine practical, and soon put it 
aside. Instead, he developed his “atmospheric engine,” an im- 
proved two-stroke engine, which ran on gas. He patented it in 
1863, and soon found a partner, Eugen Langen, to finance him. 
They built a small factory, and continued to improve the engine. 
In 1867, their two-stroke engine won a gold medal at the Paris 
World’s Fair. Thereafter, sales were brisk, and the company’s 
profits soared. In 1872, they hired Gottlieb Daimler, a brilliant 
engineer with experience in factory management, to help 
produce their engine. 

Although profits from the two-stroke engine were good, Ot- 
to could not get out of his mind the four-stroke engine that he 
had conceived originally. He was convinced that a four-stroke 
engine, which compressed the mixture of fuel and air before ig- 
niting it, could be much more efficient than any modification of 
Lenoir’s two-stroke engine. In early 1876, Otto finally devised an 
improved ignition system, and with it was able to construct a 
practical four-stroke engine. The first such model was built in 
May 1876, and a patent was granted the following year. The 
superior efficiency and performance of the four-stroke engine 
were obvious, and it was an immediate commercial success. 
Over 30,000 were sold in the next ten years alone, and all ver- 
sions of the Lenoir engine soon became obsolete. 

Otto’s German patent on his four-stroke engine was over- 
turned in 1886 in a patent suit. It turned out that a Frenchman, 
Alphonse Beau de Rochas, had thought of a basically similar 
device in 1862, and had patented it. (One should not, however, 
think of Beau de Rochas as an influential figure. His invention 
was never marketed, and, indeed, he never built a single model. 
Nor did Otto get the idea of his invention from him.) Despite the 
loss of the valuable patent, Otto’s firm continued to make 
money. When he died, in 1891, he was prosperous. 

Meanwhile, in 1882, Gottlieb Daimler left the firm. He was 
determined to adapt the Otto engine for vehicular use. By 1883, 
he had developed a superior ignition system (not, however, the 
one in general use today), which enabled the engine to operate at 

Ottos engine was employed by 
automobile pioneers Gottlieb 
Daimler and Karl Benz. 

The first Royal Daimler was a 
6-horsepower car supplied 

to the Prince of Wales. 

Smithsonian #30, 399 

The original “Benzine Buggy.” 

700-900 revolutions per minute. (Otto’s models had a top speed 
of 180-200 rpm.) Furthermore, Daimler took pains to construct a 
very light engine. In 1885, he attached one of his engines to a 
bicycle, thereby constructing the world’s first motorcycle. The 
following year, Daimler constructed his first four-wheel 
automobile. It turned out, though, that Karl Benz had beat him 


302 THE 100 

to the punch. Karl Benz had built his first automobile—a three- 
wheeler, but undeniably an automobile—just a few months 
earlier. Benz’s car, like Daimler’s, was powered by a version of 
Otto’s four-stroke engine. Benz’s engine ran at well under 400 
rpm, but that was enough to make his automobile practical. 
Benz steadily improved his automobile, and within a few years 
he succeeded in marketing it. Gottlieb Daimler started 
marketing his cars a bit later than Benz, but he, too, was suc- 
cessful. (Eventually, the Benz and Daimler firms merged 
together. The famous Mercedes-Benz automobile is manufac- 
tured by the resulting firm.) 

One more figure in the development of the automobile must 
be mentioned: the American inventor and industrialist, Henry 
Ford, who was the first to mass-produce inexpensive automobiles. 

The internal combustion engine and the automobile were 
inventions of staggering importance, and if a single person were 
entitled to exclusive credit for them he would rank near the top 
of this list. The principal credit for these inventions must, 
however, be divided among several men: Lenoir, Otto, Daimler, 
Benz, and Ford. Of all these men, Otto made the most signifi- 
cant contribution. The Lenoir engine was intrinsically neither 
powerful nor efficient enough to power automobiles. Otto’s 
engine was. Before 1876, when Otto invented his engine, 
development of a practical automobile was almost impossible; 
after 1876, it was virtually inevitable. Nikolaus August Otto is, 
therefore, one of the true makers of the modern world. 


c 1475-1541 

Francisco Pizarro, the illiterate Spanish adventurer who con- 
quered the Inca Empire in Peru, was born about 1475, in the city 
of Trujillo, Spain. Like Hernando Cortés, whose career parallels 
his in many ways, Pizarro’came to the New World to seek fame 
and fortune. From 1502 to 1509, Pizarro lived on Hispaniola, the 
Caribbean island on which Haiti and the Dominican Republic 
are now situated. In 1513, he was a member of the expedition, 
led by Vasco Nufiez de Balboa, which discovered the Pacific 
Ocean. In 1519, he settled in Panama. In 1522, when Pizarro 
was about forty-seven years old, he learned of the existence of the 
Inca Empire from Pascual de Andagoya, a Spanish explorer who 
had visited it. Pizarro, doubtless inspired by the recent conquest 
of Mexico by Hernando Cortés, decided to conquer the Inca Em- 


304 THE 100 

pire. His first attempt, in 1524-25, was unsuccessful, and his two 
ships had to turn back before reaching Peru. On his second at- 
tempt, 1526-28, he managed to reach the coast of Peru and 
return with gold, llamas, and Indians. 

In 1528, he returned to Spain. There, the following year, 
the emperor Charles V authorized him to conquer Peru for 
Spain, and supplied him with funds for an expedition. Pizarro 
returned to Panama, where he assembled the expedition. It 
sailed from Panama in 1531, at which time Pizarro was already 
fifty-six years old. The force which he had assembled included 
fewer than 200 men, while the empire that he had set out to con- 
quer had a population of over six million! 

Pizarro reached the coast of Peru the following year. In 
September 1532, taking with him only 177 men and 62 horses, he 
marched inland. Pizarro led his small force high into the Andes 
mountains to reach the town of Cajamarca, where the Incan 
ruler, Atahualpa, was staying with an army of forty thousand 
warriors. Pizarro’s troops arrived at Cajamarca on November 15, 
1532. The following day, at Pizarro’s request, Atahualpa left the 
bulk of his troops behind, and accompanied only by about five 
thousand unarmed retainers, came to parley with Pizarro. 

In the light of what Atahualpa must have known, his 
behavior is baffling. From the time that they had first landed on 
the coast, the Spaniards had plainly demonstrated both their 
hostile intent and their utter ruthlessness. It is therefore hard to 
understand why Atahualpa permitted Pizarro’s forces to ap- 
proach Cajamarca unhindered. Had the Indians attacked him on 
the narrow mountain roads, where Pizarro’s horses were almost 
useless, they could easily have annihilated the Spanish forces. 
Atahualpa’s behavior after Pizarro reached Cajamarca was still 
more amazing. To approach a hostile army while himself un- 
armed was incredibly stupid. The mystery is only heightened by 
the fact that ambush was a common tactic of the Incas. 

Pizarro did not let his golden opportunity pass. He ordered 
his troops to attack Atahualpa and his unarmed escort. The 
battle—or rather massacre—lasted only about half an hour. Not 

Francisco Pizarro 305 

a single Spanish soldier was killed; the only one wounded was 
Pizarro himself, who suffered a minor wound while protecting 
Atahualpa, whom he succeeded in capturing alive. 

Pizarro’s strategy worked perfectly. The Inca Empire was a 
highly centralized structure, with all authority flowing from the 
Inca, or emperor, who was believed to be semi-divine. With the 
Inca held prisoner, the Indians were unable to react to the 
Spanish invasion. In the hope of regaining his freedom, 
Atahualpa paid Pizarro an enormous ransom in gold and silver, 
probably worth more than 28 million dollars. Nevertheless, 
within a few months Pizarro had him executed. In November 
1533, a year after the capture of Atahualpa, Pizarro’s troops 
entered the Inca capital, Cuzco, without a fight. There, Pizarro 
installed a new Inca as his puppet. In 1535, he founded the city 
of Lima, which became the new capital of Peru. 

In 1536, however, the puppet Inca escaped and led an In- 
dian revolt against the Spanish. For a while the Spanish forces 
were besieged in Lima and Cuzco. The Spanish managed to 
regain control of most of the country the following year, but it 
was not until 1572 that the revolt was finally crushed. By then, 
however, Pizarro himself was dead. . 

Pizarro’s downfall came about because the Spanish started 
fighting among themselves. One of Pizarro’s closest associates, 
Diego de Almagro, revolted in 1537, claiming that Pizarro was 
not giving him his rightful share of the booty. Almagro was cap- 
tured and executed; but the issue was not really settled, and in 
1541, a group of Almagro’s followers broke into Pizarro’s palace 
in Lima and assassinated the sixty-six-year-old leader, only eight 
years after he had entered Cuzco victoriously. 

Francisco Pizarro was brave, determined, and shrewd. By 
his own lights, he was a religious man, and it is reported that the 
dying Pizarro drew a cross on the ground with his own blood, 
and that his last word was “Jesus.” However, he was also an in- 
credibly avaricious man, cruel, ambitious, and treacherous: 
perhaps the most brutal of the conquistadors. 

But Pizarro’s harsh character should not blind us to the 

Pizarro’s audience with 
ane _ Charles V before 
Rees RE SESS embarking for Peru. 

magnitude of his military achievement. When, in 1967, the 
Israelis won a dramatic victory over Arab nations which greatly 
outnumbered them, and which possessed far more military 
equipment, many persons were surprised. It was an impressive 
triumph; but history is studded with examples of military vic- 
tories won against sizable numerical odds. Napoleon and Alex- 
ander the Great repeatedly won victories against larger armies. 
The Mongols, under the successors of Genghis Khan, managed to 
conquer China, a country which had at least thirty times their 


Francisco.Pizarro 307 

However, Pizarro’s conquest of an empire of over six million 
with a force of only 180 men is the most astonishing military feat 
in history. The numerical odds he overcame were considerably 
higher than those which faced Cortés, who invaded an empire of 
roughly five million with a force of 600 men. Could even Alex- 
ander the Great or Genghis Khan have matched Pizarro’s ac- 
complishment? I doubt it, since neither of them would ever have 
been so reckless as to attempt a conquest when faced with such 
overwhelming odds. 

But, one might ask, did not Spanish firearms give them an 
overwhelming tactical advantage? Not at all. Arquebuses, the 
primitive firearms of the time, had a small range and took a long 
time to reload. Although they made a frightening noise, they 
were actually less effective than good bows and arrows. In any 
event, when Pizarro entered Cajamarca, only three of his men 
had arquebuses, and no more than twenty had crossbows. Most 
of the Indians were killed by conventional weapons such as 
swords and spears. Despite their possession of a few horses and 
firearms, it is plain that the Spanish entered the conflict at an 
overwhelming military disadvantage. Leadership and deter- 
mination, rather than weaponry, were the chief factors in the 
Spanish victory. Of course, Pizarro had good luck as well; but it 
is an old saying that fortune favors the brave. 

Francisco Pizarro has been condemned by some writers as 
little more than a courageous thug. But few if any thugs have had 
his impact on history. The empire which he overthrew ruled 
most of present-day Peru and Ecuador, as well as the northern 
half of Chile, and part of Bolivia. Its population was con- 
siderably larger than all the rest of South America combined. As 
a result of Pizarro’s conquests, the religion and culture of Spain 
were imposed on the entire region. Furthermore, after the fall of 
the Inca Empire, no other part of South America had any chance 
of successfully resisting European conquest. Millions of Indians 
still inhabit South America. But in most parts of the continent 
the Indians have never regained political power, and European 
language, religion, and culture remain dominant. 

308 THE 100 

Cortés and Pizarro, each leading only small forces, succeed- 
ed in rather quickly overthrowing the empires of the Aztecs and 
the Incas. This has led many people to suspect that the conquest 
of Mexico and Peru by Europeans was inevitable. Indeed, it does 
seem that the Aztec Empire had no real chance of maintaining its 
independence. Its location (near the Gulf of Mexico, and a com- 
paratively short sail from Cuba) left it vulnerable to Spanish at- 
tack. Even if the Aztecs had succeeded in defeating Cortés’s small 
forces, larger Spanish armies were sure to follow fairly soon. 

The Inca Empire, on the other hand, was far better situated 
for defense. The only ocean bordering it was the Pacific, which 
was less accessible to Spanish ships than the Atlantic. The Incas 
maintained large armies, and their empire was populous and 
well organized. Furthermore, the terrain of Peru is rugged and 
mountainous, and in many sections of the world, the European 
colonial powers found it very difficult to conquer mountainous 
regions. Even in the late nineteenth century, when European 
arms were far more advanced than they had been in the early six- 
teenth century, an Italian attempt to conquer Ethiopia was un- 
successful. Similarly, the British had almost endless difficulties 
with the tribes on the mountainous northwest frontier of India. 
And the Europeans were never able to colonize such mountain- 
ous countries as Nepal, Afghanistan, and Iran. Had Pizarro’s in- 
vasion failed, and had the Incas thereby had the opportunity to 
gain some knowledge of European weapons and tactics, they 
might well have been able to fight off substantially larger Euro- 
pean forces afterwards. As it was, it took the Spanish thirty-six 
years to suppress the Indian revolt of 1536, even though the In- 
dians had very few guns and were never able to muster more 
than a small fraction of the troops which they could have assem- 
bled before Pizarro’s conquest. The Spanish might have con- 
quered the Inca Empire even without Pizarro, but that conclu- 
sion seems far from certain. 

Thus, Pizarro has been ranked slightly higher than Cortés 
on this list. Cortés speeded up history; Pizarro may possibly have 
altered its course. 



Hernando Cortés, the conqueror of Mexico, was born in 1485, in 
Medellin, Spain. His father was a minor noble. In his youth, 
Cortés attended the University of Salamanca, where he studied 
law. At the age of nineteen, he left Spain to seek his fortune in 
the newly-discovered Western Hemisphere. He arrived in 
Hispaniola in 1504, and spent several years there as a gentleman 
farmer and local Don Juan. In 1511, he took part in the Spanish 
conquest of Cuba. Following this adventure, he married the 
sister-in-law of the Imperial Governor of Cuba, Diego Velas- 
quez, and was appointed mayor of Santiago. 

In 1518, Velasquez chose Cortés to be the captain of an ex- 
pedition to Mexico. The governor, fearing Cortés’s ambition, 


310 THE 100 

soon reversed his order, but it was too late to stop Cortés. He 
sailed in February 1519, with 11 ships, 110 sailors, 553 soldiers 
(including only 13 with hand guns and 32 with crossbows), 10 
heavy cannons, 4 light cannons, and 16 horses. The expedition 
disembarked on Good Friday at the site of the present city of 
Veracruz. Cortés remained near the coast for a while, gathering 
information about the situation in Mexico. He learned that the 
Aztecs, who ruled Mexico, had a great capital which lay inland; 
that they had great stores of precious metals; and that they were 
hated by many of the other Indian tribes whom they had 

Cortés, who was bent on conquest, decided to march inland 
and invade the Aztec territory. Some of his men were frightened 
by the enormous numerical odds which they would have to over- 
come; so before marching inland, Cortés destroyed the expedi- 
tion’s boats, thus leaving his men no choice but to either follow 
him to victory or be killed by the Indians. 

Proceeding inland, the Spaniards encountered fierce 
resistance from the Tlaxcalans, an independent tribe of Indians. 
But after their large army had been defeated by the Spanish in 
some hard-fought battles, the Tlaxcalans decided to join forces 
with Cortés against the Aztecs, whom they hated. Cortés then 
advanced to Cholula, where the Aztec ruler, Montezuma IT, had 
planned a surprise attack on the Spanish. However, Cortés, who 
had obtained advance information of the Indians’ intentions, 
struck first, and massacred thousands of them at Cholula. He 
then advanced toward the capital, Tenochtitlan (now Mexico 
City), and on November 8, 1519, entered the city without op- 
position. He soon imprisoned Montezuma, whom he made a 
puppet, and it looked as though the conquest was almost com- 

But then another Spanish force, under Panfilo de Narvaez, 
arrived on the coast with orders to arrest Cortés. Cortés left some 
of his forces in Tenochtitlan, and hastily led the rest of his troops 
back to the coast. There, he defeated the troops of Narvaez and 
persuaded the survivors to join him. However, by the time he 

Hernando Cortés 311 

was able to return to Tenochtitlan, the subordinate whom he 
had left there had antagonized the Aztecs beyond endurance. On 
June 30, 1520, there was an uprising in Tenochtitlan, and the 
Spanish forces, suffering severe casualties, retreated to Tlaxcala. 
However, Cortés obtained additional troops, and the following 
May he returned and laid siege to Tenochtitlan. The city fell on 
August 13. After that, Spanish control of Mexico was reasonably 
secure, although Cortés had to spend some time consolidating the 
conquest of the outlying regions. Tenochtitlan was rebuilt and 
renamed Mexico City, and it became the capital of the Spanish 
colony of New Spain. 

Considering the small number of troops with which Cortés 
started, his conquest of an empire of five million was a truly 
remarkable military feat. The only example in history of a con- 
quest against greater numerical odds is that of Francisco Pizarro 
over the Incas in Peru. It is natural to be curious about how and 
why Cortés succeeded. Certainly, his possession of horses and 
firearms was a factor; however, the very small numbers of those 
which he possessed were not in themselves nearly sufficient com- 
pensation for his enormous numerical disadvantage. (It is worth 
noting that neither of the two previous Spanish expeditions to the 
Mexican coast had succeeded in establishing a settlement or in 
making any permanent conquests.) Certainly, the leadership 
which Cortés provided, and his courage and determination were 
major factors in his success. An equally important factor was his 
skillful diplomacy. Cortés not only avoided inspiring an Indian 
coalition against him, but he successfully persuaded substantial 
numbers of Indians to join with him against the Aztecs. 

Cortés was also aided by Aztec legends concerning the god 
Quetzalcoatl. According to Indian legend, this god had in- 
structed the Indians in agriculture, metallurgy, and government; 
he had been tall, with white skin, and a flowing beard. After 
promising to revisit the Indians, he had departed over the 
“Fiastern Ocean,” that is, the Gulf of Mexico. To Montezuma, it 
seemed very possible that Cortés was the returning god, and this 
fear seems to have markedly influenced his behavior. Certainly, 

312 THE 100 

Montezuma’s reaction to the Spanish invasion was weak and in- 

One last factor in the Spaniards’ success was their religious 
fervor. To us, of course, Cortés’s invasion seems an inexcusable 
act of aggression. Cortés, however, was convinced that his inva- 
sion was morally justified. He could, and did, quite sincerely tell 
his men that they would win because their cause was just, and 
because they were fighting under the banner of the Cross. Cor- 
tés’s religious motivation was quite sincere: more than once, he 
risked the success of his expedition by heavy-handed attempts to 
convert his Indian allies to Christianity. | 

Although Cortés was an excellent diplomat when dealing 
with the Indians, he was not equally successful in the political in- 
fighting with his Spanish rivals. The Spanish king rewarded him 
richly with lands and made Cortés a marquis, but removed him 
from his post as Governor of Mexico. Cortés returned to Spain in 
1540, and spent the last seven years of his life vainly petitioning 
the king to restore his authority in New Spain. When Cortés 
died, in 1547, near Seville, Spain, he was an embittered though 
wealthy man. His large estates in Mexico were inherited by his 

That Cortés was greedy and ambitious is obvious. An ad- 
mirer who knew Cortés personally described him as ruthless, 
haughty, mischievous, and quarrelsome. But Cortés had many 
admirable qualities as well. He was courageous, determined, 
and intelligent. He had a generally cheerful disposition. Though 
a firm military leader, he was not wantonly cruel. Unlike 
Pizarro, who was universally hated, Cortés got along well with 
many of the Indians and tried not to govern them harshly. 
Incidentally, Cortés was apparently handsome and charming; he 
was always a great ladies’ man. 

In his will, Cortés stated that he was uncertain whether it 
was morally right to own Indian slaves. The question had trou- 
bled him, and he requested his son to consider the matter careful- 
ly. For his times, this was a rare attitude; one can hardly con- 
ceive of Francisco Pizarro (or Christopher Columbus), being 

sy my ah, " 
: 4 KPA 
Sr ane 


Se ON, 

Cortés and Montezuma meet. 

troubled by such a question. All in all, one gets the impression 
that of all the Spanish conquistadors, Cortes was the most decent 
human being. 

Cortés and Pizarro were born within fifty miles of each 
other, and only about ten years apart. The achievements of the 
two men (who appear to have been relatives) are strikingly 
similar. Between them, they conquered a region of virtually con- 
tinental size, and imposed on that region the language, religion, 
and culture of the conquerors. Throughout most of that region, 
political power has ever since remained with persons of Euro- 
pean ancestry. 

The combined influence of Cortés and Pizarro was con- 
siderably greater than that of Simon Bolivar. Their conquests 


314 THE 100 

transferred political power in South America from the Indians to 
the Europeans. Bolivar’s victories merely succeeded in transfer- 
ring power from the Spanish government to persons of European 
ancestry born in South America. : 

It might seem, at first, that Cortes should be ranked higher 
than Pizarro because his conquests took place earlier and inspired 
those of Pizarro. Furthermore, Indian resistance in Peru had not 
ended when Pizarro died, whereas Cortés essentially completed 
the conquest of Mexico. But in my opinion, those points are 
slightly overbalanced by another consideration. The conquering 
zeal of the Spanish, and the superiority of their weapons, ob- 
viously posed a serious threat to both the Aztecs and the Incas. 
Peru, protected by its mountainous terrain, had some chance of 
retaining its independence. Pizarro’s bold and successful attack 
may, therefore, actually have changed the course of history. 

But the Aztec dominions were less mountainous than Peru; 
furthermore, Mexico (unlike Peru) borders on a portion of the 
Atlantic Ocean and was therefore relatively accessible to Spanish 
forces. It therefore appears that the conquest of Mexico by Spain 
was virtually inevitable: the principal result of Cortés’s daring 
and able leadership was to hasten the process. 



Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States of 
America, and the author of the Declaration of Independence, 
was born in 1743, in Shadwell, Virginia. His father was a 
surveyor and a successful planter who eventually left a large 
estate to his son. Jefferson attended the College of William and 
Mary for two years, but left without receiving a degree. After- 
ward, he studied law for several years, and in 1767, he was ad- 
mitted to the Virginia bar. Jefferson spent the next seven years as 
a practicing lawyer and a planter. He also became a member of 
the House of Burgesses, the lower house of the Virginia 

Jefferson’s first important essay, A Summary View of the 


316 THE 100 

Rights of British America, was written in 1774. The following 
year, he was chosen as one of Virginia’s delegates to the Second 
Continental Congress, and in 1776, he drafted the Declaration of 
Independence. Later that year, he returned to the Virginia 
legislature, where he played a leading role in the adoption of 
several major reforms. Two of his important proposals were the 
Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and a Bill for the More 
General Diffusion of Knowledge, which concerned public 

Jefferson’s proposals on education included: public elemen- 
tary education available to all; a state university in which the 
more gifted could receive a higher education; and a system of 
scholarships. His educational plan was not adopted by the state 
of Virginia at that time, although similar plans were later in- 
stituted by virtually all the states. 

The statute concerning religious liberty is noteworthy in 
that it provided for complete religious toleration and for the 
complete separation of Church and State. (Previously, the Angli- 
can Church had been the established church in Virginia.) There 
was considerable opposition to Jefferson’s proposal, but it was 
eventually passed by the Virginia legislature (1786). The same 
ideas were soon adopted in the bills of rights of other states, and 
later in the United States Constitution as well. 

Jefferson served as governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781. 
He then “retired” from political life. During his retirement, he 
wrote his only book, Notes on the State of Virginia. The book 
contains, among other things, a clear statement of Jefferson’s op- 
position to the institution of slavery. In 1782, Jefferson’s wife 
died. (They had been married ten years and had six children.) 
Though he was still fairly young, Jefferson never remarried. 

Jefferson soon came out of retirement and entered Congress. 
There, a proposal of his for a decimal system of coinage was 
adopted. However, a similar proposal of his for a decimal system 
of weights and measures (this was before the metric system had 
been devised) was not approved. He also introduced a proposal 
which would have prohibited slavery in all new states; however 
it was defeated by a single vote. 

Thomas Jefferson 317 

In 1784, Jefferson went to France on a diplomatic mission. 
There, he soon succeeded Benjamin Franklin as the American 
ambassador. He stayed in France for five years, and was there- 
fore absent from the United States during the entire period in 
which the United States Constitution was drafted and ratified. 
Jefferson favored adoption of the Constitution, though like many 
others he strongly believed that a bill of rights should be includ- 

Jefferson returned to America in late 1789, and was soon ap- 
pointed the country’s first Secretary of State. Within the 
Cabinet, a clash soon developed between Jefferson and Alex- 
ander Hamilton, who was Secretary of the Treasury and whose 
political outlook was quite different from Jefferson’s. In the na- 
tion, supporters of Hamilton’s policies eventually came together 
to form the Federalist party. Supporters of Jefferson’s policies 
joined together to form the Democratic-Republican party, which 
eventually became known as the Democratic party. 

In 1796, Jefferson was a candidate for President, but he 
came in second to John Adams. Under the constitutional provi- 
sions prevailing at that time, he thereby became Vice-President. 
In 1800, he ran for President again, this time defeating Adams. 

As President, Jefferson was moderate and conciliatory 
towards his former opponents, thereby setting a valuable prece- 
dent for the United States. From the standpoint of lasting effect, 
the most notable governmental action during his term in office 
was the Louisiana Purchase, which roughly doubled the area of 
the United States. The Louisiana Purchase, perhaps the largest 
peaceful transfer of territory in recorded history, helped turn the 
United States into a great power, and was an event of far- 
reaching importance. If I thought that Thomas Jefferson were 
the person principally responsible for the Lousiana Purchase, he 
would be ranked considerably higher on this list. However, I 
believe that the French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, by making 
the crucial decision to sell the territory to the United States, was 
actually chiefly responsible for the transfer. If any individual 
American deserves special credit for the Louisiana Purchase, it 
would not be Jefferson, who had never envisaged such an exten- 

318 THE 100 

sive purchase, but rather the American envoys in Paris, Robert 

Livingston and James Monroe, who when they saw the oppor- 
tunity for an extraordinary bargain, exceeded their diplomatic 
instructions and negotiated the acquisition of the enormous ter- 
ritory. (It is noteworthy that Jefferson, who wrote his own 
epitaph, did not include the Louisiana Purchase as one of his 
principal achievements.) 

Jefferson was re-elected President in 1804; however, in 
1808, he chose not to run for a third term, thereby reinforcing 
the precedent which George Washington had set. Jefferson 
retired in 1809, and his only subsequent governmental activity 
was in connection with the founding of the University of Virginia 
(chartered in 1819). He thereby saw a portion of the educational 
program he had suggested to the Virginia legislature forty-three 
years earlier finally put into practice. Jefferson died on July 4, 
1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of In- 
dependence, after more than eighty-three years of a full and 
well-spent life. 

Jefferson had many other talents besides his obvious 
political gifts. He knew five or six foreign languages; he was in- 
terested in natural science and mathematics; he was a successful 
planter who engaged in scientific farming. He was also a 
manufacturer, minor inventor, and skilled architect. 

Because Jefferson’s talents and personal qualities were so 
outstanding, it is easy to overestimate the actual influence he has 
had on history. In assessing his true importance, we should 
perhaps start by considering the Declaration of Independence, 
since drafting that is usually considered to be his outstanding 
achievement. The first thing to note is that the Declaration of In- 
dependence is not part of the governing law of the United States 
of America; its primary importance is as a statement of American 
ideals. Furthermore, the ideas expressed in it were not original 
with Jefferson, but were largely derived from the writings of 
John Locke. The Declaration was not original philosophy; nor 
was it intended to be; rather, it was meant to be a concise state- 
ment of beliefs already held by many Americans. 

Nor was Jefferson’s magnificent phrasing of the Declaration 

Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia—the historic 
Monticello—was built from his own designs. 

responsible for the American decision to declare independence. 
The Revolutionary War had actually commenced in April 1775 
(more than a year before the Declaration of Independence), with 
the battles of Lexington and Concord. In the months following 
those battles, the American colonies faced a critical decision: 
should they demand outright independence, or should they seek 
a compromise with the English government? In the spring of 
1776, sentiment in the Continental Congress was running strong- 
ly toward the former alternative. It was not Jefferson, but rather 
Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, who on June 7 formally proposed 
that the colonies declare their independence from Great Britain. 
The Congress decided to postpone a vote on Lee’s resolution for a 
few weeks, and appointed a committee, headed by Jefferson, to 
meanwhile prepare a public statement of the reasons for declar- 
ing independence. (The other committee members wisely per- 
mitted Jefferson to draft the statement almost singlehandedly.) 
Congress took up Lee’s motion again on July 1, and the following 


320 THE 100 

day it was brought to a vote and carried unanimously. It was 
that vote, on July 2, in which the critical decision in favor of in- 
dependence was made. It was not until after that vote that the 
text of Jefferson’s draft was debated. It was adopted by Congress 
(with some modifications) two days later, on July 4, 1776. 

Even if the Declaration of Independence was not really as 
important as most people think, would not Jefferson’s other 
achievements still entitle him to a higher position on this list? In 
his epitaph, Jefferson mentioned the two other achievements for 
which he most wished to be remembered. One of those, his role 
as the founder of the University of Virginia, although certainly 
very praiseworthy, is hardly of sufficient importance to greatly 
affect his overall position on this list. The other accomplishment, 
his authorship of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, is 
quite significant indeed. Of course, the general idea of religious 
freedom had been expressed by several prominent philosphers 
before Jefferson, including John Locke and Voltaire. However, 
Jefferson’s statute went considerably further than the policies 
which had been advocated by Locke. Furthermore, Jefferson 
was an active politician who succeeded in having his proposals 
enacted into law, and Jefferson’s proposal influenced other states 
when they drew up bills of rights. 

That brings up another question: to what extent was 
Thomas Jefferson responsible for the adoption of the Federal Bill 
of Rights? Jefferson was certainly representative of those persons 
who wanted to have a bill of rights; indeed, he was one of the in- 
tellectual leaders of that group. But Jefferson, who was out of the 
country from 1784 until late 1789, was unable to lead the fight 
for a bill of rights during the crucial period immediately 
following the Constitutional Convention, and it was James 
Madison who played the principal role in actually getting the 
amendments through Congress. (Congress passed the amend- 
ments on September 25, 1789, before Jefferson returned to the 
United States.) 

It might be said that it was not Jefferson’s official actions, 
but rather his attitudes, which have most deeply affected the 
United States. However, it is rather doubtful to what extent Jef- 

Thomas Jefferson 321 

ferson’s ideas are actually accepted by the American people. 
Many persons who honor the name of Thomas Jefferson support 
policies quite contrary to his. For example, Jefferson strongly 
believed in what we today would call “small government.” A 
characteristic phrase (taken from his inaugural address) is, “...a 
wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from in- 
juring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to 
regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement....” 
Possibly Jefferson’s viewpoint was right, but the elections of the 
last fifty years indicate that his words have not convinced the 
majority of the American public. As a second example, Jefferson 
was strongly opposed to the view that the final power to interpret 
the Constitution rested with the Supreme Court, which could 
therefore declare a law unconstitutional even though it had been 
passed by Congress. Such a view, he felt, was contrary to prin- 
ciples of democratic government. 

The preceding paragraphs perhaps make it sound as if 
Thomas Jefferson had rather little influence, and does not belong 
in this book at all. But too great a concern with details can 
sometimes cause one not to see the forest for the trees. If, instead, 
one steps back and tries to view Jefferson’s career as a whole, one 
can readily see why he has been described as the “preeminent 
spokesman for human liberty.” 

Should Thomas Jefferson be ranked higher or lower than 
George Washington? American independence and democratic 
institutions were created by the combined efforts of men of ideas 
and men of action. While both were essential, I believe that in 
general the ideas were the more important contribution. On the 
executive side, George Washington plainly played the dominant 
role. Credit for the ideas, however, must be divided between a 
large number of men, including Americans such as Jefferson and 
James Madison, and Europeans such as John Locke, Voltaire, 
and many others. It is for that reason that Thomas Jefferson, 
despite his enormous talents and prestige, has been ranked 
substantially below George Washington on this list. 







SURAT = 5 = 
“~ ——. -* 






Til A Ral GaaTT eee se . 

Today, most people only remember Isabella I of Castile as the 
queen who financed Christopher Columbus’s voyage across the 
Atlantic. In reality, she was an energetic and capable ruler, who 
made a whole series of crucial decisions which profoundly in- 
fluenced Spain and Latin America for centuries, and which in- 
directly affect many millions of persons today. 

Since most of her policies were decided upon after consulta- 
tion with her shrewd and equally capable husband, Ferdinand of 
Aragon, and since they were carried out with his close coopera- 
tion, it seems reasonable to consider them as a joint entry in this 
book. However, Isabella's name has been chosen to head this article 
because it was her suggestions which were adopted in their most 
important decisions. 

Isabella was born in 1451, in the town of Madrigal, in the 
kingdom of Castile (now part of Spain). As a young girl, she 
received a strict religious training and became a very devout 
Catholic. Her half-brother, Henry IV, was king of Castile from 
1454 until he died, in 1474. At that time, there was no kingdom 
of Spain. Instead, the present territory of Spain was divided 
among four kingdoms: Castile, which was the largest; Aragon, in 

Queen Isabella I 323 

the northeast portion of present-day Spain; Granada, in the 
south; and Navarre, in the north. 

In the late 1460s, Isabella, who was the probable heir to the 
throne of Castile, was the richest heiress in Europe, and various 
princes sought her hand. Her half-brother, Henry IV, wished her 
to marry the King of Portugal. However, in 1469, when she was 
eighteen years old, Isabella slipped off, and despite the opposi- 
tion of King Henry, married Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of 
Aragon. Angered at Isabella’s disobedience, Henry named his 
daughter Juana to succeed him. Nevertheless, when Henry died, 
in 1474, Isabella claimed the throne of Castile. The supporters of 
Juana did not accept this, and a civil war followed. By February 
1479, Isabella’s forces were triumphant. King John II of Aragon 
died that same year, and Ferdinand became the king of Aragon. 
Thereafter, Ferdinand and Isabella ruled most of Spain together. 

In theory, the two kingdoms of Aragon and Castile were still 
separate, and most of their governmental institutions remained 
separate. In practice, however, Ferdinand and Isabella made all 
their decisions together, and to the best of their ability acted as 
the joint rulers of Spain. Throughout the twenty-five years of 
their combined rule, their basic policy was to create a unified 
Spanish kingdom governed by a strong monarchy. One of their 
first projects was the conquest of Granada, the only portion of 
the Iberian peninsula which was still under Moslem rule. The 
war commenced in 1481; it ended in January 1492, with the 
complete victory of Ferdinand and Isabella. With the conquest 
of Granada, Spain assumed almost exactly the same territorial 
boundaries that it has today. (The small kingdom of Navarre was 
annexed by Ferdinand in 1512, after Isabella had died.) 

Very early in their reign, Ferdinand and Isabella instituted 
the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition was an ecclesiastical 
tribunal which combined the powers of judge, jury, prosecuting 
attorney, and police investigators. It was notorious both for the 
ferocity of its punishments and for the gross unfairness of its pro- 
cedures. Suspects had little or no opportunity to refute the 
charges against them. They were not informed of the full 

324 THE 100 

testimony against them, or even of the names of their accusers. 
Suspects who denied the charges brought against them were 
often subjected to gruesome tortures until they confessed. At a 
conservative estimate, at least two thousand persons were burnt 
at the stake during the first twenty years of the Spanish Inqui- 
sition, and many times that number received lesser punishments. 

The Spanish Inquisition was headed by the ultra-fanatical 
monk, Tomas de Torquemada, who was the personal confessor 
of Isabella. Although the Inquisition had been authorized by the 
Pope, it actaally was under the control of the Spanish monarchs. 
The Inquisition was used partly to establish religious conformity, 
and partly to stamp out political opposition to the monarchs. In 
England, the feudal lords always retained enough strength to 
check the power of the king. The Spanish feudal lords also had 
once been powerful; however, the Spanish monarchs were able 
to use the Inquisition as a weapon against defiant feudal lords, 
and were thereby able to establish a centralized and absolute 
monarchy. They also used it to gain greater control over the 
Spanish clergy. . 

However, the principal targets of the Inquisition were those 
persons suspected of religious deviation, and in particular, Jews 
and Moslems who had become nominally converted to 
Catholicism, but who continued to practice their former 
religions in secret. 

At its inception, the Inquistion was not directed against pro- 
fessing Jews. However, in 1492, at the insistence of the fanatical 
Torquemada, Ferdinand and Isabella signed a decree ordering 
all Spanish Jews to either convert to Christianity or leave the 
country within four months, leaving their property behind. For 
the roughly 200,000 Spanish Jews, this order of expulsion was a 
disaster, and many died before reaching a safe haven. For Spain, 
the loss of a high proportion of the country’s most industrious and 
skilled tradesmen and artisans proved a severe economic setback. 

When Granada had surrendered, the peace treaty provided 
that the Moslems living in Spain were to be permitted to continue 
practicing their religion. In fact, however, the Spanish govern- 

Queen Isabella I 325 

ment soon violated this agreement. The Moors therefore rebel- 
led, but were defeated. In 1502, all Moslems living in Spain were 
forced to choose either conversion to Christianity or exile—the 
same choice that had been presented to the Jews ten years earlier. 

Although Isabella was a devout Catholic, she never permit- 
ted her orthodoxy to interfere with her Spanish nationalism. She 
and Ferdinand struggled hard and successfully to insure that the 
Catholic Church in Spain was controlled by the Spanish monar- 
chy, rather than by the Pope. This was one of the reasons why 
the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century never made 
any headway in Spain. 

The most notable event of Isabella’s reign, of course, was 
the discovery of the new world by Christopher Columbus, which 
also occurred in the fateful year 1492. Columbus’s expedition 
was sponsored by the kingdom of Castile. (However, the story 
that Isabella had to pawn her jewels to pay for the expedition is 
not true.) 

Isabella died in 1504. During her lifetime, she had given 
birth to one son and four daughters. The son, Juan, died in 1497. 
The best known of her daughters was Juana. Ferdinand and 
Isabella arranged for Juana to marry Philip I (the Handsome), 
who was the son of the Austrian Hapsburg emperor and was also 
the heir to the kingdom of Burgundy. As a result of this extraor- 
dinary dynastic marriage, Isabella’s grandson, the Emperor 
Charles V, inherited one of the largest empires in European 
history. He was also elected Holy Roman Emperor, and was the 
wealthiest and most powerful European monarch of his time. 
The territories which he either nominally or actually ruled in- 
cluded Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Switzer- 
land, most of Italy, and parts of France, Czechoslovakia, Po- 
land, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, in addition to a large portion of 
the Western Hemisphere. Both Charles V and his son Philip II 
were ardent Catholics who, during their long reigns, used the 
wealth of the New World to finance wars against the Protestant 
states of northern Europe. Thus, the dynastic marriage arranged 
by Ferdinand and Isabella influenced the history of Europe for 
almost a century after their deaths. 

326 THE 100 

Let me try tosummarize the accomplishments and influence 
of Ferdinand and Isabella. By their joint efforts, they largely suc- 
ceeded in creating a united kingdom of Spain with essentially the 
same boundaries that Spain has retained for the last five cen- 
turies; they created a centralized, absolute monarchy in Spain; 
the expulsion of the Moors and the Jews had important conse- 
quences both for the exiles and for Spain herself; and their 
religious bigotry and establishment of the Inquisition had pro- 
found effects on the entire future history of Spain. 

This last point merits some discussion. In the simplest terms, 
one might say that the Inquisition placed Spain in an intellectual 
strait jacket. In the centuries following 1492, most of western 
Europe underwent an enormous intellectual and _ scientific 
flowering. Not so Spain. In a society where the expression of any 
deviant thoughts placed one in danger of arrest by the Inquisi- 
tion, it is not surprising that originality was lacking. Other Euro- 
pean countries allowed some diversity of opinion. In Spain, the 
Inquisition permitted only a rigidly orthodox Catholicism. By 
1700, Spain was an intellectual backwater compared with the 
rest of western Europe. Indeed, although it is five centuries since 
Ferdinand and Isabella established the Spanish Inquisition, and 
over 150 years since the Inquisition was finally abolished, Spain 
has still not fully recovered from its effects. 

Furthermore, Isabella’s sponsorship of Columbus’s expedi- 
tion insured that most of South and Central America became 
Spanish colonies. This meant that Spanish culture and_in- 
stitutions— including the Inquisition—were established through- 
out a large portion of the Western Hemisphere. It is hard- 
ly surprising, therefore, that just as Spain was intellectually 
backward compared with most of western Europe, so the 
Spanish colonies in South America became intellectually less ad- 
vanced than the English colonies in North America. 

In considering where Isabella should be ranked on this list, 
one factor to be considered is whether much the same events 
would have occurred without her. It is true that the crusading 
spirit was already very strong in Spain, because of the 700-year- 

Queen Isabella I 327 

long struggle to reconquer the Iberian peninsula from the 
Moslems. However, when that struggle ended successfully in 
1492, Spain had a choice of directions in which to go. It was Fer- 
dinand and Isabella— particularly Isabella—who set the course 
of Spain in the direction of uncompromising religious orthodoxy. 
Without her influence, it seems quite possible that Spain would 
have remained a reasonably pluralistic society. 

It is perhaps natural to compare Isabella with the more 
famous Queen Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth was at least as 
capable as Isabella; furthermore, because of her comparatively 
humane and tolerant policies, she seems a far more admirable 
ruler. But she was less of an innovator than Isabella, and none of 
her actions had as profound an influence as did Isabella’s 
establishment of the Inquisition. Although some of Isabella’s 
policies were quite abhorrent, few monarchs in history have had 
as far-reaching an influence as she had. 




Stalin, whose original name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugash- 
vili, was for many years the dictator of the Soviet Union. He was 
born in 1879, in the town of Gori, in Georgia, in the Caucasus. 
His native language was Georgian—a very different language 
from Russian, which he learned later, and which he always 
spoke with a marked Georgian accent. 

Stalin was reared in poverty. His father, a cobbler who 
drank excessively and beat his son brutally, died when Iosif was 
eleven years old. As a youth, Iosif attended a church school in 
Gori, and as a teenager, he attended a theological seminary in 
Tiflis; however, in 1899, he was expelled from the seminary for 
spreading subversive ideas. He joined the underground Marxist 
movement, and in 1903, when there was a party split, he sided 
with the Bolshevik wing. In the years leading up to 1917, he was 
an active party member, and was arrested at least six times. 


Joseph Stalin 329 

(However, since his sentences were generally light, and since he 
managed to escape on more than one occasion, it seems possible 
that he was actually a double agent for part of that time.) It was 
during this period that he adopted the not inappropriate 
pseudonym “Stalin” (man of steel). 

Stalin did not play a really major role in the Communist 
revolution of 1917. However, he was very active during the next 
two years, and in 1922, became Secretary General of the Com- 
munist Party. This post gave him a great deal of influence in the 
administration of the party and was a major factor in his success 
in the struggle for power that occurred after Lenin died. 

It is clear that Lenin wished Leon Trotsky to be his suc- 
cessor. In fact, in his political testament, Lenin stated that Stalin 
was too ruthless and ought to be removed from his post as 
Secretary General. However, after Lenin’s death in early 1924, 
Stalin succeeded in having Lenin’s testament suppressed. Fur- 
thermore, Stalin was able to join forces with Lev Kamenev and 
Grigori Zinoviev, two important members of the Politburo, to 
form a “troika,” or triumvirate. Together they succeeded in 
defeating Trotsky and his followers. Then Stalin, a genius at 
political infighting, turned on Zinoviey and Kamenev and 
defeated them. Having defeated the “left-wing opposition” (i.e., 
Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and their followers) in the power 
struggle, Stalin proceeded to adopt several of their main political 
proposals. Not long after that, Stalin turned on the leaders of the 
right wing of the Communist party—his erstwhile allies—and 
defeated them too. By the early 1930s, he was the sole dictator of 
the Soviet Union. | ee | 

From this position of power, starting in 1934, Stalin unleashed 
a drastic series of political purges. The event that nominally set off 
those purges was the assassination, on December 1, 1934, of Sergei 
Kirov, a high Communist official and one of Stalin's advisors. How- 
ever, it seems quite likely that Stalin himself ordered Kirov’s assas- 
sination, partly in order to get rid of Kirov, but mostly in order to 
furnish a pretext for the purges that followed. 

In the course of the next few years, a high proportion of the 

330 THE 100 

men who had been Communist party leaders during the 1917 
Revolution, and, under Lenin’s administration, were charged with 
treason by Stalin and executed. Many of them openly confessed in 
large public trials. It was as if Thomas Jefferson, while President, 
had arrested most of the signers of the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence and the Constitution, charged them all with treason, and 
executed them after their “confessions” in public trials. In 1938, 
the man who had headed the earlier purges, Genrikh Yagoda, was 
himself brought to trial, confessed to treason, and was duly exe- 
cuted. For that matter, his successor, Nicolai Yezhov, was also even- 
tually purged and executed. 

The purges of the mid-1930s extended throughout the Com- 
munist party and the Soviet armed forces. They were not directed 
primarily against anti-Communists or counter-revolutionaries. 
(Most of those had been crushed during Lenin’s administration. ) 
Rather, they were directed against the Communist party itself. 
Stalin was far more successful in killing Communists than the Czar- 
ist police had ever been. For example, of the members of the 
Central Committee elected at the Party Congress of 1934, more 
than two thirds were killed during the subsequent purges. From 
this, it is clear that Stalin's primary motive was to preclude the 
establishment of any independent power within the country. 

Stalin's ruthless use of the secret police, and his program of 
arbitrary arrests and executions, and long terms in prison or labor 
camps for anyone even slightly critical of his rule, succeeded in 
cowing the population into submission. By the end of the 1930s he 
had created perhaps the most totalitarian dictatorship of modern 
times, a government structure which intruded into every aspect of 
life and under which there were no civil liberties. 

Among the economic policies instituted by Stalin was the 
forced collectivization of agriculture. This policy was highly unpop- | 
ular with the peasants, and many of them resisted it. In the early 
1930s, however, by Stalin’s orders, millions of peasants were either 
killed or starved to death, and in the end his policy prevailed. 

Another policy that Stalin pushed was the rapid industrializa- 
tion of the Soviet Union. This was accomplished in part by a series 
of “Five-Year Plans,” since imitated by many countries outside the 




Scene from one of the spectacular Russian treason trials of 
the thirties, which established Stalin’s reputation as a 

Soviet Union. Despite various inefficiencies, Stalin's program of 
industrialization was, in the short run, a success. In spite of its 
enormous material losses during World War II, the Soviet Union 
emerged from that war as the world’s second largest industrial 
power. (In the long run, though, the agricultural and industrial 
policies which he instituted have severely damaged the Soviet 
economy. ) 

In August 1939, Hitler and Stalin signed their famous “nonag- 
gression” pact. Within two weeks, Hitler invaded Poland from the 


332 THE 100 

west, and a few weeks later the Soviet Union invaded Poland from 
the east and took over the eastern half of the country. Later that 
year, the Soviet Union threatened the three independent nations 
of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia with armed invasion. All three 
surrendered without a fight and were eventually annexed to the 
USSR. Similarly, part of Romania was annexed by the threat of 
force. Finland refused to submit to threats; however, a Russian 
invasion resulted in the conquest of Finnish territory. An excuse 
often given for these annexations is that the territory was needed 
by the Soviet Union for defense against the expected attack from 
Nazi Germany. However, when the war was over, and Germany 
thoroughly defeated, Stalin did not relinquish control over any of 
the occupied territories. 

At the end of World War II, Soviet armies occupied much 
of eastern Europe, and Stalin utilized the opportunity to set up 
Communist governments, subservient to the Soviet Union, 
throughout that region. A Marxist government also emerged in 
Yugoslavia; however, as there were no Russian troops in that coun- 
try, Yugoslavia did not become a Russian satellite. To prevent the 
other Communist countries in eastern Europe from following the 
Yugoslav example, Stalin had purges instituted in the east Euro- 
pean satellite states. It was during the immediate postwar era that 
the Cold War commenced. Although some people have attempted 
to blame this on Western leaders, it seems abundantly clear that 
the principal cause of the Cold War was the expansionist policies 
of Stalin, and his implacable desire to spread the Communist sys- 
tem—and Soviet power—throughout the world. 

In January 1953, the Soviet government announced that a 
group of doctors had been arrested for plotting the deaths of high- 
ranking Soviet officials. This sounded very much as if Stalin was 
planning still another set of sweeping purges. However, on March 
5, 1953, the seventy-three-year-old dictator died in the Kremlin in 
Moscow. His body was preserved and put on display in a position 
of honor, next to the body of Lenin in the mausoleum in Red 
Square. In later years, however, Stalin's reputation was downgraded 
very sharply; and today he is generally abhorred as a tyrant 
throughout the lands he once ruled. 

Joseph Stalin 333 

Stalin's family life was not very successful. He married in 
1904, but three years later his wife died of tuberculosis. Their only 
child, Jacob, was captured by the Germans in World War II. The 
Germans offered to exchange him, but Stalin turned the offer 
down, and Jacob died in a German prison camp. In 1919, Stalin 
married a second time. His second wife died in 1932, reportedly 
by her own hand, although there have been rumors that Stalin 
himself killed her or had her killed. There were two children by 
the second marriage. The son, an officer in the Soviet Air Force, 
became an alcoholic. He died in 1962. Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana, 
defected from the Soviet Union, and in 1967 came to the United 

The outstanding characteristic of Stalin's personality was his 
total ruthlessness. No consideration of sentiment or pity seems to 
have influenced him in the slightest. He was also an intensely 
suspicious person, verging on paranoia. He was, however, an im- 
mensely capable man: energetic, persistent, and shrewd, with an 
unusually powerful mind. 

As the dictator of the Soviet Union for approximately a quarter 
of a century, Stalin had a great deal of influence on a great many 
lives. In fact, if the overall influence of a dictator upon his own 
generation is deemed to be proportional to the number of people 
he controls, to the degree of his individual control, and to the time 
he remains in power, then Stalin was perhaps the foremost dictator 
in history. During his lifetime, Stalin sent millions of persons to 
their deaths, or to forced labor camps, or had them starved to 
death. (There is no way of knowing just how many people died as 
a result of his various purges, but it was probably in the neighbor- 
hood of 30 million.) 

There is therefore no doubt that Stalin's short-term influence 
was immense. However, like his contemporary, Adolf Hitler (with 
whom he is often compared), it is unclear how great his permanent 
influence will be. 

During his lifetime, Stalin expanded the borders of the Soviet 
Union, set up a satellite empire in eastern Europe, and trans- 
formed the USSR into a great power, with influence in every por- 

334 THE 100 

tion of the globe. But in the past few years the imposing Soviet 
empire in eastern Europe has crumbled away, and the Soviet Union 
itself has fractured into fifteen independent states. 

During Stalin’s lifetime, the USSR was a vast police state. 
However, the fearful grip of the secret police was gradually curbed 
after Stalin's death. Today, Russians enjoy more individual liberty 
than at any time in their country’s history. 

Stalin’s economic program was derived from the ideas of Marx 
and Lenin. But while Marx had suggested those policies, and 
Lenin had started to put them into effect, it was really Stalin who 
succeeded in largely eliminating private farming and private busi- 
ness enterprises within the Soviet Union. However, those policies 
have proven to be disastrous, and are now being abandoned en- 

Despite this, I cannot help but feel that the foregoing greatly 
underestimates Stalin’s overall influence. Joseph Stalin was not just 
another power-mad dictator who ruled a large country for twenty- 
five years. By instituting the Cold War, he dominated the history 
of the entire world for many years after he died. No war in his- 
tory—not even World War IJ—had such a global effect as did the 
Cold War. It was not just the USSR and the USA which were 
affected: Every country on earth was caught up in the diplomatic 
and economic aspects of the struggle, and in many parts of the 
world there were shooting wars as well. The arms race between 
the two superpowers—which, although the largest and costliest 
arms race in history, was only one aspect of the struggle—cost 
many trillions of dollars. Worst of all, perhaps, for many years the 
entire world lived under the threat of a nuclear holocaust which 
might entirely destroy civilization. 

The Cold War was widely detested, and most people devoutly 
wished for its end. But for decades the dead, denounced Stalin 
had more power—more actual effect on the world—than any living 
political figure. Of him, more perhaps than of any other man in 
history, it could truly be said that, “the evil that men do lives after 

Joseph Stalin 335 

The Cold War is over now, and Stalin’s pernicious influence 
may finally be ending. We should also remember that some of the 
blame for Stalin's crimes must be accorded to Lenin, who preceded 
Stalin and set the stage for him. Nevertheless, Stalin was one of 
the titans of history: a cruel genius who will not soon be forgotten. ee ee 

~ one 


Stalin meets with M.I. Kalinin, President of the Soviet 
Union 1923-1946. 




100 sB.c.- 44 B.c. 

Gaius Julius Caesar, the famous Roman military and political 
leader, was born in Rome in 100 B.c., during a period of extraor- 
dinary political turmoil. 

In the second century B.c., following their victory over Car- 
thage in the Second Punic War, the Romans had created a large 
empire. This conquest had made many Romans very rich. 
However, the wars had badly disrupted the social and economic 
fabric of Rome, and many of the peasantry had been dispossess- 
ed. The Roman Senate, in origin a sort of board of aldermen for a 
small city, proved unable to fairly and efficiently govern a large 
empire. Political corruption was rampant, and the entire 
Mediterranean world was suffering from misgovernment by 
Rome. In Rome itself, starting in about 133 B.c., there had been 

Julius Caesar 337 

a protracted period of disorder. Politicians, generals, and 
demagogues struggled for power, and partisan armies (such as 
that of Marius in 87 B.c. and that of Sulla in 82 B.c.) marched 
through Rome itself. Though the fact of misgovernment was ob- 
vious to all, most Roman citizens wanted to retain republican 
government. Julius Caesar was probably the first important 
political leader to clearly see that democratic government in 
Rome was no longer worth saving, and indeed was already past 

Caesar himself was descended from an old patrician family. 
He had received a good education, and as a young man, entered 
political life. The details of the various offices which he held, his 
sundry alliances, and his political rise are very involved, and no 
attempt will be made to recount them here. However, in 58 B.c., 
when he was forty-two years old, Julius was appointed the gover- 
nor of three foreign provinces ruled by Rome: Cisalpine Gaul 
(northern Italy); Illyricum (the coastal regions of present-day 
Yugoslavia); and Narbonese Gaul (the southern coast of France). 
Under his command at that time were four Roman legions, total- 
ing about twenty thousand men. 

During the years 58-51 B.c., Caesar used those forces to in- 
vade and conquer all the rest of Gaul—a region comprising, 
roughly, present-day France and Belgium, together with parts of 
Switzerland, Germany, and Holland. Although his forces were 
badly outnumbered, he succeeded in completely defeating the 
Gallic tribes and in adding all the territory up to the Rhine River 
to the Roman dominions. He also sent two expeditions to Britain, 
but achieved no permanent conquests there. 

The conquest of Gaul made Caesar, who was already a 
leading political figure, a popular hero back in Rome; in the 
opinion of his political opponents, far too popular and powerful. 
When his military command ran out, he was ordered by the 
Roman Senate to return to Rome as a private citizen—that is, 
without his army. Caesar feared, probably correctly, that if he 
returned to Rome without his troops, his political opponents 
would use the opportunity to destroy him. Therefore, on the 

338 THE 100 

night of January 10-11, 49 B.c., in open defiance of the Roman 
Senate, Caesar led his troops across the Rubicon River in nor- 
thern Italy and marched on Rome. This plainly illegal act started 
a civil war between Caesar’s legions on the one hand and forces 
loyal to the Senate on the other hand. The war lasted four years 
and ended in a complete victory for Caesar, the final battle being 
fought at Munda, in Spain, on March 7, 45 B.c. 

Caesar had already concluded that the efficient, enlight- 
ened despotism which Rome required could best be supplied by 
himself. He returned to Rome in October of 45 B.c., and was 
soon made dictator for life. In February of 44 B.c., he was of- 
fered a crown but turned it down. However, since he was 
already a military dictator, this did not greatly reassure his 
republican opponents. On March 15, 44 B.c., (the famous Ides of 
March) Caesar was assassinated at a Senate meeting by a group 
of conspirators. 

During the last years of his life, Caesar had embarked on a 
vigorous program of reform. He had instituted a plan to resettle 
army veterans and the urban poor of Rome in new communities 
throughout the empire. He had extended Roman citizenship to 
several additional groups of persons. He planned to institute a 
uniform system of municipal government for Italian cities. He 
also planned a vast building program, and a codification of 
Roman law. He instituted various other reforms as well. But he 
did not succeed in setting up a satisfactory constitutional system 
of government for Rome, and this was perhaps the principal 
cause of his downfall. 

Since it was only a year between Caesar’s victory at Munda 
and his assassination in Rome, many of his plans were never im- 
plemented, and it is hard to be sure just how enlightened or effi- 
cient his administration would have been had he lived. Of all his 
reforms, the one which had the most lasting effect was the adop- 
tion of a new calendar. The calendar he introduced has, with on- 
ly minor modifications, remained in use ever since. 

Julius Caesar was one of the most charismatic political 
figures in history, and possessed a wide variety of talents. He was 

Julius Caesar 339 

a successful politician, a brilliant general, and an excellent orator 
and writer. The book he wrote (De bello Gallico) describing the 
conquest of Gaul has long been considered a literary classic: in 
the opinion of many students, the most readable and interesting 
of all the Latin classics. Caesar was bold, vigorous, and hand- 
some. He was a notorious Don Juan, and even by the permissive 
standards of his day was considered promiscuous. (His most 
famous affair, of course, was his celebrated romance with 

Caesar’s character has often been criticized. He was am- 
bitious for power, and he certainly used his political offices to 
become rich. However, unlike most ambitious politicians, he was 
in general neither devious nor deceitful. Caesar was ruthless and 

The Ides of March: the assassination of Julius Caesar. 

340 THE 100 

brutal when fighting the Gauls. On the other hand, he was 
remarkably magnanimous to his defeated Roman opponents. 

It is an indication of the prestige attached to his name that 
both the German imperial title, Kaiser, and the Russian imperial 
title, Czar, are derived from the word “Caesar.” He has always 
been far more famous than his grandnephew Augustus Caesar, 
the true founder of the Roman Empire. However, Julius Caesar’s 
actual influence upon history is not equal to his enormous fame. 
It is true that he played a significant role in the downfall of the 
Roman Republic. But his importance in that respect should not 
be exaggerated, since republican government in Rome was 
already tottering. 

Caesar’s most important accomplishment was his conquest 
of Gaul. The territories he conquered there were to remain under 
Roman rule for approximately five centuries. During that inter- 
val, they became thoroughly Romanized. Roman laws, customs, 
and language were adopted, and later, Roman Christianity as 
well. Present-day French is derived to a substantial extent from 
the colloquial Latin of those times. 

Caesar’s conquest of Gaul was also an important influence 
on Rome itself, providing Italy for several centuries with security 
against attacks from the north. Indeed, the conquest of Gaul was 
a factor in the security of the whole Roman Empire. 

Would the Romans sooner or later have conquered Gaul, 
even without Caesar? They had no technological or numerical 
advantage over the Gallic tribes. On the other hand, Rome was 
rapidly expanding in the period before Caesar’s conquest of 
Gaul, and for sometime afterward. Given the high military ef- 
fectiveness of the Roman armies of that time, the proximity of 
Gaul to Rome, and the disunity of the Gallic tribes, it appears 
that Gaul had little chance of remaining independent. In any 
event, it is indisputable that Caesar was the general who actually 
defeated the large Celtic armies and conquered Gaul, and he is 
in this book chiefly for that accomplishment. 




In the year 1066, Duke William of Normandy, with only a few 
thousand troops behind him, crossed the English Channel in an 
attempt to become ruler of England. His bold attempt 
succeeded—the last time that any foreign invasion of England 
has been successful. The Norman Conquest did far more than ob- 
tain the throne of England for William and his successors. It pro- 
foundly influenced all subsequent English history—in ways and 
to an extent that William himself could scarcely have envisioned. 

William was born about 1027, in Falaise, a town in Nor- 
mandy, France. He was the illegitimate, but only son of Robert 
I, Duke of Normandy. Robert died in 1035, while returning from 
a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Before his departure, he had 
designated William to be his heir. Thus, at the age of eight, 
William became Duke of Normandy. 


342 THE 100 

Far from assuring him of a comfortable position of wealth 
and power, the succession put William in a precarious position. 
He was only a little boy, and he was the overlord of feudal barons 
who were grown men. Not surprisingly, the barons’ ambition 
was stronger than their loyalty, and a period of severe anarchy 
followed, during which three of William’s guardians died violent 
deaths, and his personal teacher was murdered. Even with the 
help of King Henry I of France, his nominal overlord, William 
was lucky to survive those early years. 

In 1042, when William was in his mid-teens, he was 
knighted. Thereafter, he took a personal role in political events. 
After a long series of wars against the feudal barons of Nor- 
mandy, William finally succeeded in gaining firm control of his 
duchy. (Incidentally, his illegitimate birth was a distinct political 
handicap, and his opponents frequently referred to him as “the 
Bastard.”) In 1063, he succeeded in conquering the neighboring 
province of Maine, and in 1064, he was also recognized as the 
overlord of the neighboring province of Brittany. 

From 1042 to 1066, the King of England was Edward the 
Confessor. Since Edward was childless, there was much 
maneuvering for the succession to the English throne. From the 
standpoint of consanguinity, William’s claim to succeed Edward 
was rather weak: Edward’s mother was a sister of William’s 
grandfather. However, in 1051, Edward, perhaps influenced by 
William’s manifest ability, promised William the succession. 

In 1064, Harold Godwin, the most powerful of the English 
lords, and a close associate and brother-in-law of Edward the 
Confessor, fell into William’s hands. William treated Harold 
well, but detained him until Harold swore a solemn oath to sup- 
port William’s claim to the English throne. Many people would 
not consider a promise extorted in this fashion to be either legally 
or morally binding, and certainly Harold did not. When Edward 
died in 1066, Harold Godwin claimed the throne of England for 
himself, and the Witan (a council of English lords which often 
took part in deciding the succession) chose him to be the new 
king. William, ambitious to extend his realm and angered at 

William the Conqueror 343 

Harold’s breach of his oath, decided to invade England in order 
to impose his claim by force of arms. 

William assembled a fleet and an army on the French coast, 
and in early August of 1066, he was ready to set sail. However, 
the expedition was delayed for several weeks by unrelenting 
north winds. Meanwhile, Harald Hardraade, the King of Nor- 
way, launched a separate invasion of England from across the 
North Sea. Harold Godwin had been keeping his army in the 
south of England, prepared to oppose William’s invasion. Now 
he had to march his army to the north, to meet the Norwegian at- 
tack. On September 25, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, the 
Norwegian king was killed and his forces routed. 

Just two days later, the wind changed in the English Chan- 
nel, and William promptly transported his troops to England. 
Perhaps Harold should have let William march toward him, or 
at least he should have fully rested his troops before offering bat- 
tle. Instead, he quickly marched his troops back south to fight 
William. The two armies met on October 14, 1066, at the 
celebrated Battle of Hastings. By the end of the day, William’s 
cavalry and archers had succeeded in routing the Anglo-Saxon 
forces. Near nightfall, King Harold himself was killed. His two 
brothers had been killed earlier in the battle, and there was no 
English leader remaining with the stature to raise a new army or 
to contest William’s claim to the throne. William was crowned in 
London that Christmas day. 

Over the next five years, there were a series of scattered 
revolts, but William suppressed them all. William used these 
revolts as a pretext to confiscate all of the land in England and to 
declare it his own personal property. Much of it was then 
dispensed to his important Norman followers, who held the land 
under feudal tenure as his vassals. As a result, virtually the entire 
Anglo-Saxon aristocracy was dispossessed and replaced by Nor- 
mans. (As dramatic as this sounds, only a few thousand people 
were directly involved in this transfer of power. For the peasants 
tilling the soil, there was simply a change of overlords.) 

William always contended that he was the rightful King of 

344 THE 100 

England, and during his lifetime most English institutions were 
retained. As William was interested in obtaining information 
concerning his new holdings, he ordered that a detailed census of 
the population and property of England be taken. The results 
were recorded in the enormous Domesday Book, which has been 
an invaluable source of historical information. (The original 
manuscripts still exist; they are now in the Public Record Office 
in London.) 

William was married and had four sons and five daughters. 
He died in 1087, in the city of Rouen, in northern France. Every 
monarch of England since then has been his direct descendant. 
Curiously, although William the Conqueror is perhaps the most 
important of all the kings of England, he himself was not 
English, but French. He was born and died in France, lived 
almost his entire life there, and spoke only French. (He was, in- 
cidentally, illiterate.) 

In assessing William’s influence upon history, the most im- 
portant thing to remember is that the Norman conquest of 
England would not have occurred without him. William was not 
the natural successor to the English throne, and save for his per- 
sonal ambition and ability, there was no historical reason or 
necessity for the Norman invasion. England had not been invad- 
ed from France since the Roman conquest a thousand years 
earlier. It has not been successfully invaded from France (or from 
anywhere else) in the nine centuries since William’s day. 

The question then is: just how great was the effect of the 
Norman Conquest? The Norman invaders were relatively small 
in number, but they had a great influence upon English history. 
In the five or six centuries before the Norman Conquest, England 
had been invaded repeatedly by Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian 
peoples, and her culture was basically Teutonic. The Normans 
were themselves of Viking descent, but their language and 
culture were French. The Norman Conquest, therefore, had the 
effect of bringing English culture into close contact with French 
culture. (Today that may seem a natural thing; however, in the 
centuries before William the Conqueror, most of England’s 

William the Conqueror 345 

cultural contacts had been with northern Europe.) What 
resulted in England was a blend of the French and Anglo-Saxon 
cultures, a blend which might not have occurred otherwise. 

William introduced into England an advanced form of 
feudalism. The Norman kings, unlike their Anglo-Saxon 
predecessors, thereby had at their command a force of several 
thousand armed knights—a powerful army by medieval stand- 
ards. The Normans were skilled administrators, and the English 
government became one of the most powerful and effective 
governments in Europe. 

William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. 


<a ERS eet a 

346 THE 100 

Another interesting result of the Norman Conquest was the 
development of a new English language. As a result of the Nor- 
man Conquest, there was a large infusion of new words into 
English—so large, in fact, that modern English dictionaries in- 
clude more words of French or Latin origin than of Anglo-Saxon 
derivation. Furthermore, during the three or four centuries im- 
mediately following the Norman Conquest, English grammar 
changed very rapidly, largely in the direction of greater simplici- 
ty. Had it not been for the Norman Conquest, present-day 
English might be only slightly different from Low German and 
Dutch. This is the only known instance in which a major 
language would not exist in anything like its present form, were 
it not for the career of a single individual. (It is worth noting that 
English is today quite plainly the foremost language in the 

One might also mention the effect of the Norman Conquest 
upon France. For roughly four centuries thereafter, there was a 
long series of wars between the English kings (who, because of 
their Norman origin, held substantial land in France) and the 
French kings. These wars are directly traceable to the Norman 
Conquest; prior to 1066, there had been no wars between 
England and France. 

In many ways, England is substantially different from all 

the continental European countries. Both by her acquisiton of a 
great empire and by her democratic institutions, England has 
had a profound influence upon the rest of the world, completely 
out of proportion to her own size. To what extent are these 
aspects of British political history a consequence of William’s ac- 

Historians are not agreed on just why modern democracy 
developed originally in England, rather than, say, in Germany. 
But English culture and institutions were a blend of the Anglo- 
Saxon and Norman, and this blend resulted from the Norman 
Conquest. On the other hand, I hardly think it reasonable to give 
the despotic William too much of the credit for the later growth 
of English democracy. Certainly, there was precious little 

William the Conqueror 347 

democracy in England in the century following the Norman 

With regard to the formation of the British empire, 
William’s influence seems more clear. Prior to 1066, England 
had invariably been on the receiving end of invasions. After 
1066, the roles were reversed. Thanks to the strong central 
government which William established and which his successors 
maintained, and to the military resources which this government 
commanded, England was never invaded again. Instead, she 
was continually engaged in overseas military operations. It was 
therefore natural that when the power of Europe expanded 
overseas, England eventually acquired more colonies than any 
other European state. 

One cannot, of course, give William the Conqueror the 
credit for all later developments in English history; but surely the 
Norman Conquest was an indirect factor in much of what later 
occurred. The long-term influence of William is therefore very 

outa’ — 




The first known painting of the Battle of Hastings. 




Sigmund Freud, the originator of psychoanalysis, was born in 
1856, in the town of Freiberg, which is now in Czechoslovakia 
but was then part of the Austrian empire. When he was four 
years old, his family moved to Vienna, where he lived almost his 
entire life. Freud was an outstanding student in school, and he 
received his medical degree from the University of Vienna in 
1881. During the next ten years, he did research in physiology, 
joined the staff of a psychiatric clinic, engaged in private practice 
in neurology, worked in Paris with the eminent French 
neurologist, Jean Charcot, and also worked with the Viennese 
physician, Josef Breuer. 

Sigmund Freud 349 

Freud’s ideas on psychology developed gradually. It was not 
until 1895 that his first book, Studies in Hysteria, appeared, with 
Breuer as co-author. His next book, The Interpretation of 
Dreams, appeared in 1900, and was one of his most original and 
most significant works. Although the book sold very slowly at 
first, it greatly enhanced his reputation. Other important works 
followed, and by 1908, when he gave a series of lectures in the 
United States, Freud was already famous. In 1902, he had 
organized a psychology discussion group in Vienna. One of the 
earliest members was Alfred Adler, and a few years later, Carl 
Jung joined. Both men were to become world-famous 
psychologists in their own right. 

Freud was married and had six children. In his later life, he 
developed cancer of the jaw, and from 1923 on, he underwent 
more than thirty operations in an attempt to correct the condi- 
tion. Nevertheless, he continued working, and some important 
works were produced during these later years. In 1938, the Nazis 
entered Austria, and the 82-year-old Freud, who was Jewish, 
was forced to flee to London, where he died the following year. 

Freud’s contributions to psychological theory were so exten- 
sive that it is difficult to summarize them briefly. He stressed the 
enormous importance of unconscious mental processes in human 
behavior. He showed how such processes affect the content of 
dreams, and cause commonplace mishaps such as slips of the 
tongue and forgetting names, as well as self-inflicted accidents 
and even diseases. 

Freud developed the technique of psychoanalysis as a 
method of treating mental illness. He formulated a theory of the 
structure of the human personality. He also developed or 
popularized psychological theories concerning anxiety, defense 
mechanisms, the castration complex, repression, and sublima- 
tion, to name just a few. His writings greatly stimulated interest 
in psychological theory. Many of his ideas were, and are, highly 
controversial, and have provoked heated discussion ever since he 
proposed them. | . 

Freud is perhaps best known for proposing the idea that 

350 THE 100 

repressed sexual feelings often play a causative role in mental ill- 
ness or neurosis. (Actually, Freud did not originate this idea, 
although his writings did much to give it scientific currency.) He 
also pointed out that sexual feelings and desires begin in early 
childhood, rather than in adolescence. 

Because many of Freud’s ideas are still so controversial, it is 
very difficult to assess his place in history. He was a pioneer anda 
trailblazer, with a remarkable talent for coming up with new 
ideas. However, Freud’s theories (unlike those of Darwin or 
Pasteur) have never won the general endorsement of the scien- 
tific community, and it is hard to tell what fraction of his ideas 
will ultimately be considered correct. 

Despite the continuing controversy over his ideas, there 
seems little doubt that Freud is a towering figure in the history of 
human thought. His ideas on psychology have completely revolu- 
tionized our conception of the human mind, and many of the 
ideas and terms which he introduced have become common 
usage—-e.g., the id, the ego, the superego, the Oedipus complex, 
and the death wish. 

It is true that psychoanalysis is an extremely expensive mode 
of treatment, and that it quite often fails. But it is also true that 
the technique has a great many successes to its credit. Future 
psychologists may well conclude that repressed sexual feelings 
play a lesser role in human behavior than many Freudians have 
claimed. However, such feelings surely play a greater role than 
most psychologists before Freud had believed. Similarly, the ma- 
jority of psychologists are now convinced that unconscious men- 
tal processes play a decisive role in human behavior—one that 
was greatly underestimated before Freud. 

Freud was certainly not the first psychologist, and in the 
long run probably will not be considered the one whose ideas 
were most nearly correct. Still, he was clearly the most influen- 
tial and important figure in the development of modern 
psychological theory, and in view of the enormous importance of 
his field, he certainly deserves a place on this list. 



The English physician Edward Jenner was the man who 
developed and popularized the technique of vaccination as a 
preventive measure against the dreaded disease of smallpox. 

Today, when, thanks to Jenner, smallpox has been wiped off 
the face of the earth, we tend to forget just how frightful were the 
casualties it caused in earlier centuries. Smallpox was so contagious 
that a substantial majority of the people living in Europe caught 
the disease at some time during their lives. And it was so virulent 
that at least 10 to 20 percent of those who contracted the disease 
died from it. Of those who survived, another 10 or 15 percent were 
permanently disfigured by severe pockmarks. Smallpox was not 
confined to Europe, of course, but raged throughout North 
America, India, China, and many other parts of the world. Every- 
where, children were the most frequent victims. 


352 THE 100 

For many years, attempts had been made to find a reliable 
means of preventing smallpox. It had been known for a very long 
time that a person who survived an attack of smallpox was 
thereafter immune, and would not catch the disease a second 
time. In the Orient, this observation had led to the practice of in- 
oculating healthy people with material taken from someone who 
had a mild case of smallpox. This was done in the hope that the 
person so inoculated would himself contract only a mild case of 
the disease and, after recovering, would be immune. 

This practice was introduced into England in the early eigh- 
teenth century by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and it had 
become fairly common there a good many years before Jenner. 
Jenner himself, in fact, had been inoculated with smallpox when 
he was eight years old. However, this ingenious preventive 
measure had a grave drawback: a fair number of persons so in- 
oculated developed not a minor attack of the disease but a 
virulent attack which left them badly pockmarked. In fact, 
roughly 2 percent of the time inoculation itself resulted in a fatal 
attack of smallpox! Clearly, a superior method of prevention was 
badly needed. 

Jenner was born in 1749, in the small town of Berkeley, in 
Gloucestershire, England. As a boy of twelve, he was appren- 
ticed to a surgeon. Later, he studied anatomy and worked in a 
hospital. In 1792, he received a medical degree from St. An- 
drew’s University. In his mid-forties, he was well established as a 
physician and surgeon in Gloucestershire. 

Jenner was familiar with the belief, which was common 
among dairymaids and farmers in his region, that people who 
contracted cowpox—a minor disease of cattle, which can, 
however, be transmitted to humans—never got smallpox after- 
ward. (Cowpox itself is not dangerous to human beings, 
although its symptoms somewhat resemble those of an extremely 
mild attack of smallpox.) Jenner realized that if the farmers’ 
belief was correct, then inoculating people with cowpox would 
provide a safe method of immunizing them against smallpox. He 
investigated the matter carefully, and by 1796, became convinc- 

Jenner administers the first vaccination. 

ed that the belief was indeed correct. He therefore decided to test 
it directly. 

In May 1796, Jenner inoculated James Phipps, an eight- 
year-old boy, with matter taken from a cowpox pustule on a 
dairymaid’s hand. As expected, the boy developed cowpox, but 
soon recovered. Several weeks later, Jenner inoculated Phipps 
with smallpox. As he had hoped, the child developed no signs of 
the disease. 


354 THE 100 

After some further investigations, Jenner set forth his results 
in a short book, An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the 
Variolae Vaccinae, which he published privately in 1798. It was 
that book which was primarily responsible for the rapid adoption 
of the practice of vaccination. Jenner subsequently wrote five 
other articles concerning vaccination, and for years devoted 
much of his time to disseminating knowledge of his technique, 
and working for its adoption. 

The practice of vaccination spread rapidly in England, and 
was soon made compulsory in the British army and navy. Even- 
tually it was adopted throughout most of the world. 

Jenner freely offered his technique to the world and made 
no attempt to profit from it. However, in 1802, the British 
Parliament, in gratitude, granted him an award of £10,000. A 
few years later, Parliament granted him an additional £20,000. 
He became world-famous, and many honors and medals were 
bestowed upon him. Jenner was married and had three children. 
He lived to be seventy-three, dying in early 1823, in his home 
town of Berkeley. 

As we have seen, Jenner did not originate the idea that an 
attack of cowpox would confer immunity against smallpox; he 
heard it from others. It even appears, in fact, that a few persons 
had deliberately been vaccinated with cowpox before Jenner 
came along. 

But although Jenner was not a strikingly original scientist, 
there are few men who have done as much to benefit mankind. 
By his investigations, his experiments, and his writings, he 
transformed a folk belief, which the medical profession had 
never taken seriously, into a standard practice which has saved 
countless millions of lives. Although Jenner’s technique could on- 
ly be applied to the prevention of a single disease, that disease 
was a major one. He richly deserves the honors which his own 
and all subsequent generations have accorded him. 




Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen, the discoverer of X-rays, was born in 
1845, in the town of Lennep, in Germany. He received his Ph.D. 
in 1869 from the University of Zurich. During the next nineteen 
years, Rontgen worked at a number of different universities, 
gradually acquiring a reputation as an excellent scientist. In 
1888, he was appointed professor of physics and director of the 
Physical Institute at the University of Wurzburg. It was there, in 
1895, that R6ntgen made the discovery which made him famous. 

On November 8, 1895, Réntgen was doing some ex- 
periments with cathode rays. Cathode rays consist of a stream of 
electrons. The stream is produced by applying a high voltage be- 
tween electrodes placed at each end of a closed glass tube from 
which almost all of the air has been removed. Cathode rays 
themselves are not particularly penetrating, and are readily stop- 
ped by a few centimeters of air. On this occasion, Réntgen had 
completely covered his cathode-ray tube with heavy black paper, 
so that even when the electric current was turned on, no light 


356 THE 100 

could be seen coming from the tube. However, when Réntgen 
turned on the current in the cathode-ray tube, he was surprised 
to see that a fluorescent screen lying on a bench nearby started 
glowing, just as though a light had stimulated it. He turned off 
the tube, and the screen (which was coated with barium platino- 
cyanide, a fluorescent substance) stopped glowing. Since the 
cathode-ray tube was completely covered, R6ntgen soon realized 
that some invisible form of radiation must be coming from the 
tube when the electric current was on. Because of its mysterious 
nature, he called this invisible radiation “X-rays” —“X” being the 
usual mathematical symbol for an unknown. 

Excited by his chance discovery, R6ntgen dropped his other 
research and concentrated on investigating the properties of the 
X-rays. In a few weeks of intense work, he discovered the follow- 
ing facts: (1) X-rays can cause various other chemicals besides 
barium platinocyanide to fluoresce. (2) X-rays can pass through 
many materials which are opaque to ordinary light. In par- 
ticular, ROntgen noticed that X-rays could pass right through his 
flesh, but were stopped by his bones. By placing his hand be- 
tween the cathode-ray tube and the fluorescent screen, Réntgen 
could see on the screen the shadow of the bones in his hand. (3) 
X-rays travel in straight lines; unlike electrically charged par- 
ticles, X-rays are not deflected by magnetic fields. 

In December 1895, Rontgen wrote his first paper on X-rays. 
His report promptly aroused great interest and excitement. 
Within a few months, hundreds of scientists were investigating 
X-rays, and within a year roughly a thousand papers had been 
published on the topic! One of the scientists whose research was 
directly motivated by Rontgen’s discovery was Antoine Henri 
Becquerel. Becquerel, although intending to investigate X-rays, 
instead chanced upon the even more important phenomenon of 

In general, X-rays are generated whenever high-energy 
electrons strike an object. The X-rays themselves do not consist of 
electrons, but rather of electromagnetic waves. They are there- 
fore basically similar to visible radiation (that is, light waves), ex- 
cept that the wavelengths of X-rays are very much shorter. 

William Conrad Réntgen 357 

The best known application of X-rays, of course, is their use 
in medical and dental diagnosis. Another application is radio- 
therapy, in which X-rays are used to destroy malignant tumors or 

X-rays have facilitated great advances in dentistry. 

358 THE 100 

to arrest their growth. X-rays also have many industrial applica- 
tions. For example, they can be used to measure the thickness of 
certain materials or to detect hidden flaws. X- rays are also useful 
in many fields of scientific research, from biology to astronomy. 
In particular, X-rays have provided scientists with a great deal of 
information concerning atomic and molecular structure. 

Rontgen deserves full credit for the discovery of X-rays. He 
worked alone, his discovery was unanticipated, and he followed 
it up superbly. Furthermore, his discovery provided an impor- 
tant stimulus to Becquerel and to other researchers. 

Nevertheless, one should not overestimate Rontgen’s im- 
portance. The applications of X-rays are certainly very useful; 
however, one cannot say that they have transformed our whole 
technology, as Faraday’s discover of electromagnetic induction 
did. Nor can one say that the discovery of X-rays was of truly 
fundamental importance in scientific theory. Ultraviolet rays 
(whose wavelengths are shorter than those of visible light) had 
been known for almost a century. The existence of X-rays— 
which are similar to ultraviolet waves, except that their wave- 
lengths are shorter still—therefore fits quite smoothly into the 
framework of classical physics. All in all, I think it quite 
reasonable to rank R6éntgen significantly below Rutherford, whose 
discoveries were of more fundamental importance. 

Réntgen had no children of his own; however, he and his 
wife adopted a daughter. In 1901, Réntgen was the recipient of 
the Nobel Prize in physics, the first one ever awarded. He died in 
1923, in Munich, Germany. 



The great composer Johann Sebastian Bach was the first man to 
successfully combine the differing national styles of music which 
had existed in western Europe. By bringing together what was 
best in the Italian, French, and German musical traditions, he 
succeeded in enriching all of them. Not outstandingly famous 
during his own lifetime, Bach was half forgotten during the fifty 
years following his death. But his reputation has grown steadily 
during the last 150 years, and he is today generally acknowledg- 
ed to be one of the two or three greatest composers of all time: in 
the opinion of some, the greatest of them all. 

Bach was born in 1685, in the town of Eisenach, in 
Germany. It was his good fortune to be born into an environ- 


360 THE 100 

ment where musical talent was admired and musical achieve- 
ment encouraged. Indeed, the Bach family had been oustanding 
in the field of music for many years before Johann Sebastian was 
born. His father was a fine violinist, two of his great-uncles had 
been talented composers, and several of his cousins were highly 
respected musicians. 

Bach’s mother died when he was nine, and he was an 
orphan by the time he was ten. As a teenager, he received a 
scholarship to St. Michael’s School in Liineburg, partly because 
of his fine voice and partly on the basis of need. He graduated 
from St. Michael’s in 1702, and the following year found a posi- 
tion as a violinist in a chamber orchestra. Over the next twenty 
years, he held a variety of positions. During his own lifetime, 
Bach was chiefly famous as a superb organ player, although he 
was a composer, teacher, and conductor as well. In 1723, when 
Bach was thirty-eight years old, he obtained the position of can- 
tor of St. Thomas’s Church in Leipzig. He held that position for 
the remaining twenty-seven years of his life. He died in 1750. _ 

Although Bach was never without a good position and was 
always able to support his family, he was not nearly as famous 
during his own lifetime as Mozart and Beethoven (or even Franz 
Liszt or Frederic Chopin) became during their lifetimes. Not all 
of Bach’s employers recognized his genius. In Leipzig, the coun- 
cil had wished to hire a “first rate musician”; it was only when 
they were unable to obtain the services of their first two choices 
that they reluctantly offered the position to Bach! (On the other 

hand, a few years earlier, when he had wished to leave his post as — 

organist and concertmaster at the ducal court at Weimar for a 
new position, the duke was so reluctant to have him leave that he 
actually put Bach in prison. Bach spent over three weeks in jail 
before the duke finally relented.) 

Bach married his second cousin when he was twenty-two 
years old. They had seven children together, but Bach’s wife died 
when he was thirty-five years old. He remarried the following 
year, and his second wife not only helped raise the first seven 
children, but bore him an additional thirteen children. Only 

Johann Sebastian Bach 361 

nine of Bach’s children survived him, but four of those became 
well-known musicians in their own right. A talented family in- 
deed! | 

Bach was a prolific composer. His works include approx- 
imately 300 cantatas; the set of 48 fugues and preludes that com- 
pose The Well-Tempered Clavier; at least 140 other preludes; 
more than 100 other harpsichord compositions; 23 concertos; 4 
overtures; 33 sonatas; 5 masses; 3 oratorios; and a large variety of 
other pieces. All in all, Bach composed more than 800 serious 
pieces of music during his lifetime! 

Bach was a Lutheran, and deeply religious. He wished his 
music to serve the church, and the majority of his works are 
religious music. He did not attempt to invent new forms of 
music, but rather carried the existing forms to their highest peak. 

During the half-century following his death, the music of 
Johann Sebastian Bach was largely ignored. (It is worth noting, 
though, that the greatest musicians of that era—Haydn, Mozart, 
and Beethoven—did appreciate Bach’s genius.) New musical 
styles were evolving, and the “old-fashioned” music of Bach went 
temporarily into eclipse. After 1800, however, there was a 
revival of interest in Bach’s music, and since then his reputation 
and popularity have steadily climbed. Bach is more popular to- 
day, in this secular age, than he was during his own lifetime. It is 
indeed strange that a composer who was considered old- fashion- 
ed 200 years ago, both in style and in subject matter, should be 
widely admired today. What is the reason for his immense 

In the first place, Bach is generally considered to be 
technically the best craftsman of all the major composers. He 
was acquainted with all the musical resources of his day, and 
could use each of them flawlessly. For example, no subsequent 
composer has ever rivaled Bach’s artistic command of counter- 
point (a technique in which two or more separate melodies are 
played at the same fime). In addition, his works are admired for 
the logic and diversity of their orchestration, the cogency of their 
themes, and the expressiveness of their melodies. 

THE 100 

To most serious students of music, the depth and complexity 
of structure of Bach’s compositions give them a more lasting ap- 
peal than the more easily understood works of most other com- 
posers. Many people whose interest in music is more casual think 
of Bach as a rather difficult composer; however, it should be 
pointed out that his following is not confined to a small musical 
elite. His records probably sell better than those of any classical 
composer except Beethoven. (In the long run, of course, the 
works of Bach or Beethoven are listened to far more than the 
works of a “popular” composer who is all the rage for a while, 
but whose popularity proves transient.) 

Where should Bach be ranked on this list? Plainly, he should 
be ranked below Beethoven: not only are Beethoven’s works 
more popular, but he was also a daring innovator who did more 
to influence the course of musical history than Bach did. It 
likewise seems appropriate to rank Bach below Michelangelo, the 
leading figure in the visual arts, and far below Shakespeare, the 
greatest literary genius. But in view of the enduring popularity of 
Bach’s music and the large influence it has had upon subsequent 
composers, it seems reasonable to rank him higher than any other 
artistic or literary figure. 

| Prptadin oe Oh pone 

A page from the score 
of the “Prelude and 
Fugue in B-Minor,” 
written by J. S. Bach. 



fl. 4th c.B.c. 

Of the many thousands of books which have been written in 
China, the one which has perhaps been the most frequently 
translated and read outside that country is a slender volume writ- 
ten over two thousand years ago and known as the Lao Tzu, or 
the Tao Te Ching. The Tao Te Ching (Classic of the Way and its 
Power) is the central text in which the philosophy of Taoism is 

It is a subtle book, written in an extraordinary cryptic style 
and capable of many interpretations. The central idea concerns 
the Tao, which is usually translated “the Way” or “the Road.” 
But the concept is somewhat obscure, since the Tao Te Ching 
itself begins by saying: “The Tao which can be told is not the 
eternal Tao; the name which can be named is not the eternal 
name.” Nevertheless, we might say that Tao means roughly 
“Nature” or “the Natural Order.” 

Taoism takes the view that the individual should not strug- 
gle against the Tao, but should submit to it and work with it. Ac- 
tively seeking to gain or exercise power is not-so much immoral as 
it is foolish and futile. The Tao cannot be defeated; one should 
instead try to live in conformity with it. (A Taoist might point 


364 THE 100 

out that water, which is infinitely soft, which flows without pro- 
test into the lowest places, and which responds to even the 
weakest force without resistance, is nevertheless indestructible, 
whereas the hardest rocks are worn away in time.) 

For an individual human being, simplicity and naturalness 
are usually advisable. Violence should be avoided, as should all 
striving for money or prestige.One should not seek to reform the 
world, but rather to respect it. For governments, also, a some- 
what inactive policy is usually the wisest course. There are too 
many statutes already. Passing more laws, or harshly enforcing 
the old ones, usually makes matters worse. High taxes, ambitious 
government programs, and making war are all contrary to the 
spirit of the Taoist philosophy. 

According to Chinese tradition, the author of the Tao Te 
Ching was a man called Lao Tzu, who is said to have been an 
older contemporary of Confucius. But Confucius lived in the 
sixth century B.c., and both because of its style and its content, 
few modern scholars believe that the Tao Te Ching was written 
at such an early date. There is considerable dispute as to the 
book’s actual date of composition. (The Tao Te Ching itself 
never mentions a specific person, place, date, or historical 
event.) However, 320 B.c. is a good estimate—certainly within 
eighty years of the true date, and probably much closer. 

This problem has led to a great deal of dispute concerning 
the dates—and even the existence—of Lao Tzu himself. Some 
authorities believe the tradition that Lao Tzu lived in the sixth 
century B.c, and have therefore concluded that he did not write 
the Tao Te Ching. Other scholars have suggested that he is mere- 
ly a legendary figure. My viewpoint, accepted only by a minority 
of scholars, is that: (1) Lao Tzu was a real person, and the author 
of the Tao Te Ching; (2) He lived in the fourth century B.c.; and 
(3) The story that Lao Tzu was an older contemporary of Con- 
fucius is fictitious, and was fabricated by later Taoist philoso- 
phers in order to lend prestige to the man and his book. 

It is worth noting that of the early Chinese writers neither 
Confucius (551-479 s.c.), nor Mo Ti (fifth century B.c.), nor 


Lao Tzu 365 

Mencius (371-289 B.c.) makes any mention of either Lao Tzu or 
the Tao Te Ching; however, Chuang Tzu, an important Taoist 
philosopher who flourished about 300 B.c., mentions Lao Tzu 
Since even the existence of Lao Tzu is in dispute, we should 
be skeptical of biographical details. But there are respectable Pee ee eee et 
sources for the following statements: Lao Tzu was born and lived ee es 
in northern China. For part of his life he was an historian or 

Taoist family sacrifices to the harvest moon. 






’ STE ey a 

366 THE 100 

curator of official archives, most probably at Loyang, the capital 
of the Chou dynasty monarchs. Lao Tzu was not his original 
name, but is rather an honorific title meaning roughly “old 
master.” He was married and had a son named Tsung. Tsung 
later became a general in the state of Wei. 

Although Taoism started as a basically secular philosophy, a 
religious movement eventually developed out of it. However, 
while Taoism as a philosophy continued to be based primarily on 
the ideas expressed in the Tao Te Ching, the Taoist religion soon 
became encrusted with an enormous number of superstitious 
beliefs and practices that have relatively little to do with the 
teachings of Lao Tzu. ~ 

Assuming that Lao Tzu actually was the author of the Tao 
Te Ching, his influence has been large indeed. The book is very 
short (less than six thousand characters in Chinese, and therefore 
small enough to fit on a single sheet of newspaper!), but it con- 
tains much food for thought. A whole series of Taoist philos- 
ophers have used the book as a starting point for their own ideas. 

In the West, the Tao Te Ching has been far more popular 
than the writings of Confucius or of any Confucian philosopher. 
In fact, at least forty different English translations of the book 
have been published, a larger number than for any other book 
except the Bible. 

In China itself, Confucianism has generally been the domi- 
nant philosophy, and where there is a clear conflict between the 
ideas of Lao Tzu and those of Confucius, most Chinese have 
followed the latter. Nevertheless, Lao Tzu has generally been 
highly respected by the Confucians. Furthermore, in many cases, 
Taoist ideas have simply been assimilated into Confucian 
philosophy, and have thereby influenced millions of persons who 
do not call themselves Taoists. Similarly, Taoism has had a mark- 
ed influence on the Chinese development of Buddhist philos- 
ophy, and in particular on Zen Buddhism. Though few people 
today call themselves Taoists, there is no Chinese philosopher ex- 
cept Confucius who has had so widespread and enduring an im- 
pact on human thought as Lao Tzu. 




Frangois Marie Arouet—better known by his pseudonym, 
Voltaire—was the leading figure of the French Enlightenment. 
A poet, playwright, essayist, novelist, short-story writer, his- 
torian, and philosopher, Voltaire was the apostle of freethinking 

Voltaire was born in 1694, in Paris. He was of middle class 
origin, and his father was a lawyer. In his youth, Voltaire at- 
tended the Jesuit college of Louis-le-Grand in Paris. Afterward, 
he studied law for a while, but soon dropped it. As a young man 
in Paris, he soon acquired the reputation of being a very witty 
fellow, full of clever jokes and satiric verses. Under the ancien 
regime in France, however, such cleverness could be dangerous, 
and as a result of some of his political verses, Voltaire was ar- 
rested and thrown into the Bastille. He spent almost a year in 
prison, where he occupied his time by writing an epic poem, the 


368 THE 100 

Henriade, which later won considerable acclaim. In 1718, short- 
ly after Voltaire was released from prison, his play Oedipe was 
produced in Paris, where it was an enormous success. At twenty- 
four, Voltaire was famous, and for his remaining sixty years, he 
was a leading French literary figure. 

Voltaire was clever with money as well as with words, and 
he gradually became an independently wealthy man. In 1726, 
however, he ran into some trouble. Voltaire had already 
established himself as the wittiest and most brilliant conversa- 
tionalist of his time (and perhaps of all time). He lacked, 
however, the modesty which some French aristocrats felt was ap- 
propriate for a commoner. This led to a public dispute between 
Voltaire and one such aristocrat, the Chevalier de Rohan, in 
which Voltaire’s wit got him the better of the verbal fighting. 
Soon afterwards, however, the Chevalier had Voltaire beaten up 
by a group of ruffians and, later on, thrown into the Bastille. 
Voltaire was soon released from jail on the condition that he 
leave France. He therefore went to England, where he stayed for 
about two and a half years. 

Voltaire’s stay in England proved to be a major turning 
point in his life. He learned to speak and read English, and 
became familiar with the works of such famous Englishmen as 
John Locke, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and William Shake- 
speare. He also became personally acquainted with most of the 
leading English thinkers of the day. Voltaire was impressed by 
Shakespeare and by English science and empiricism; but what 
most impressed him about the English was their political system. 
English democracy and personal liberties presented a striking 
contrast to the political conditions which Voltaire knew in 
France. No English lord could issue a lettre de cachet and 
thereby have Voltaire summarily thrown into jail; and if for any 
reason Voltaire were to be detained improperly, a writ of habeas 
corpus would soon get him released. 

When Voltaire returned to France, he wrote his first major 
philosophical work, the Lettres philosophiques, usually called 
the Letters on the English. That book, which was published in 

Voltaire 369 

1734, marks the true beginning of the French Enlightenment. In 
the Letters on the English, Voltaire presented a generally 
favorable description of the British political system and of the 
ideas of John Locke and other English thinkers. Publication of 
the book aroused the anger of the French authorities, and 
Voltaire was again forced to leave Paris. 

Voltaire spent most of the next fifteen years in Cirey, in 
eastern France, where he was the lover of Madame du Chiatelet, 
the brilliant and educated wife of a marquis. In 1750, a year 
after her death, Voltaire went to Germany at the personal invita- 
tion of Frederick the Great of Prussia. Voltaire spent three years 
at Frederick’s court in Potsdam. At first he got along well with 
the brilliant and intellectual Frederick, but eventually they quar- 
reled, and in 1753, Voltaire left Germany. 

After leaving Germany, Voltaire settled on an estate near 
Geneva, where he could be safe from both the French and Prus- 
sian kings. However, his liberal views made even Switzerland a 
bit dangerous for him. In 1758, therefore, he moved to a new 
estate in Ferney, near the French-Swiss border, where he would 
have two possible directions in which to flee in case of trouble 
with the authorities. He stayed there for twenty years, pouring 
out literary and philosophical works, corresponding with in- 
tellectual leaders throughout Europe, and entertaining visitors. 

Through all these years, Voltaire’s literary output continued 
undiminished. He was a fantastically prolific writer, perhaps the 
most voluminous author on this list. All told, his collected 
writings run to well over 30,000 pages. They include epic poems, 
lyric verse, personal letters, pamphlets, novels, short stories, 
plays, and serious books on history and philosophy. 

Voltaire had always been a strong believer in religious 
toleration. However, when he was in his late sixties, a number of 
particularly horrifying instances of persecution of Protestants oc- 
curred in France. Aroused and outraged, Voltaire dedicated 
himself to an intellectual crusade against religious fanaticism. He 
wrote large numbers of political pamphlets opposing religious in- 
tolerance. Also, he took to ending all his personal letters with the 

370 THE 100 

words Ecrasez l’infdme, which means, “Stamp out the infamous 
thing.” To Voltaire, “the infamous thing” was religious bigotry 
and fanaticism. 

In 1778, when he was eighty-three years old, Voltaire 
returned to Paris, where he attended the premiere of his new 
play, Irene. Large crowds applauded him as the “grand old 
man” of the French Enlightenment. Hundreds of admirers, in- 
cluding Benjamin Franklin, visited him. But Voltaire’s life was 
soon over. He died in Paris on May 30, 1778. Because of his 
outspoken anticlericalism, he could not receive a Christian 
funeral in Paris; but thirteen years later, victorious French 
revolutionaries had his remains dug up and reburied in the Pan- 
théon in Paris. 

_ _Voltaire’s writings are so voluminous that it would be very 
difficult to list even his major works in a short article. More im- 
portant than the titles, though, are the basic ideas which he pro- 
moted throughout his career. One of his strongest beliefs was in 
the necessity for freedom of speech and of the press. A remark 
frequently attributed to him is: “I disapprove of what you say, 
but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Although 
Voltaire never actually made that explicit statement, it certainly 
reflects his attitude. 

Another leading principle of Voltaire’s was his belief in free- 
dom of religion. Throughout his career, he steadfastly opposed 
religious intolerance and persecution. Although Voltaire be- 
lieved in God, he firmly opposed most religious dogmas, and 
constantly presented the view that organized religion was basic- 
ally a sham. 

Quite naturally, Voltaire never believed that the titled 
aristocrats of France were wiser or better than he, and his audi- 
ence learned that the so-called “divine right of kings” was a lot of 
nonsense. Although Voltaire himseif was far from a modern- 
style democrat (he tended to prefer a strong but enlightened 
monarch), the main thrust of his ideas was plainly opposed to 
any form of hereditary rule. It is therefore not surprising that 
most of his followers came to favor democracy. His political and 

Voltaire 371 

religious ideas were thus in the mainstream of the French 
Enlightenment, and they contributed substantially to the French 
Revolution of 1789. 

Voltaire was not himself a scientist, but he was interested in 
science and was a firm supporter of the empirical outlook of 
Francis Bacon and John Locke. He was also a serious and capable 
historian. One of his most important works was his universal 
history, the Essay on the Manners and Spirit of Nations. This 
book differed from most previous histories in two main respects: 
first, Voltaire recognized that Europe was only a small part of 
the world, and he therefore devoted a considerable portion of his 
work to Asian history; second, Voltaire took the view that 
cultural history is, in general, far more important than political 
history. His book is therefore concerned more with social and 
economic conditions and the development of the arts, than with 
kings and the wars they fought. 

Voltaire was not as original a philosopher as several others on 
this list. To a considerable extent, he took the ideas of other 
men, such as John Locke and Francis Bacon, restated them, and 
popularized them. However, it was through Voltaire’s writings, 
more than anyone else’s, that the ideas of democracy, religious 
toleration, and intellectual freedom were disseminated through- 
out France, and for that matter, throughout much of Europe. 
Though there were other important writers (Diderot, d’Alem- 
bert, Rousseau, Montesquieu, etc.) in the French Enlighten- 
ment, it is fair to say that Voltaire was the preeminent leader of 
that movement. In the first place, his pungent literary style, long 
career, and voluminous output assured him a far greater audi- 
ence than any of the other writers. In the second place, his ideas 
were characteristic of the entire Enlightenment. And in the third 
place, Voltaire preceded all the other important figures in point 
of time. Montesquieu’s great work, The Spirit of the Laws, did 
not appear until 1748; the first volume of the famed Encyclo- 
pedie came out in 17&1; and Rousseau’s first essay was written in 
1750. By contrast, Voltaire’s Letters on the English was publish- 
ed in 1734, and he had already been famous for sixteen years 
when that appeared. 

372 THE 100 

Voltaire’s writings, with the exception of the short novel 
Candide, are little read today. They were, however, very widely 
read during the eighteenth century, and Voltaire therefore 
played an important role in the changing climate of opinion that 
ultimately resulted in the French Revolution. Nor was his in- 
fluence confined to France: Americans such as Thomas Jeffer- 
son, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin were also ac- 
quainted with his works, and many of Voltaire’s ideas have become 
part of the American political tradition. 

Voltaire'’s funeral. 

re : 

. 6 fii) { 
- = 
—_—=—=—_—" AY | 

_ = 




Johannes Kepler, the discoverer of the laws of planetary motion, 
was born in 1571, in the town of Weil der Stadt, Germany. That 
was just twenty-eight years after the publication of De revol- 
utionibus orbium coelestium, the great book in which Coper- 
nicus set forth his theory that the planets revolved about the sun 
rather than the earth. Kepler studied at the University of Tub- 
ingen, obtaining a-bachelor’s degree in 1588 and a master’s 
degree three years later. Most scientists of the day refused to ac- 
cept the heliocentric theory of Copernicus; but while Kepler was 
at Tiibingen he heard the heliocentric hypothesis intelligently ex- 
pounded, and he soon came to believe in it. | 

After leaving Tubingen, Kepler was for several years a pro- 
fessor at the Academy in Graz. While there he wrote his first 
book on astronomy (1596). Although the theory which Kepler 
propounded in that book turned out to be completely incorrect, 


374 THE 100 

the book so clearly revealed Kepler’s mathematical ability and 
originality of thought, that the great astronomer Tycho Brahe in- 
vited him to become his assistant at his observatory near Prague. 

Kepler accepted the offer and joined Tycho in January 
1600. Tycho died the following year; however, Kepler had made 
such a favorable impression in the intervening months that the 
Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II, promptly appointed him to 
succeed Tycho as Imperial Mathematician. Kepler was to hold 
that post for the rest of his life. 

As the successor to Tycho Brahe, Kepler inherited the 
voluminous records of the careful observations of the planets that 
Tycho had made over many years. Since Tycho, who was the last 
great astronomer before the invention of the telescope, was also 
the most careful and accurate observer the world had yet seen, 
those records were invaluable. Kepler believed that a careful 
mathematical analysis of Tycho’s records would enable him to 
determine conclusively which theory of planetary motion was 
correct: the heliocentric theory of Copernicus; the older, geo- 
centric theory of Ptolemy; or perhaps a third theory propounded 
by Tycho himself. However, after years of painstaking numerical 
calculation, Kepler found to his dismay that Tycho’s observations 
were not consistent with any of those theories! 

Eventually, Kepler realized what the problem was: he, like 
Tycho Brahe and Copernicus, and like all the classical 
astronomers, had assumed that planetary orbits consisted of 
circles, or combinations of circles. In fact, however, planetary 
orbits are not circular, but rather elliptical. 

Even after discovering the basic solution, Kepler still had to 
spend many months in complicated and tedious calculations to 
make sure that his theory satisfied Tycho’s observations. His 
great book, Astronomia nova, published in 1609, presented his 
first two laws of planetary motion. The first law states that each 
planet moves around the sun in an elliptical orbit, with the sun at 
one focus. The second law states that a planet moves more quick- 
ly when it is closer to the sun; the speed of a planet varies in such 
a way that the line joining the planet and the sun sweeps out 

Johannes Kepler 375 

equal areas in equal lengths of time. Ten years later, Kepler 
published his third law: the more distant a planet is from the sun, 
the longer it takes to complete its revolution, with the square of 
the period of revolution being proportional to the cube of the 
distance from the sun. 

Kepler’s laws, by providing a basically complete and correct 
description of the motions of the planets around the sun, solved 
one of the basic problems of astronomy, one whose solution had 
eluded even such geniuses as Copernicus and Galileo. Of course, 
Kepler had not explained why the planets moved in the orbits 
they do; that problem was solved later in the century by Isaac 
Newton. But Kepler’s laws were a vital prelude to Newton’s 
grand synthesis. (“If I have seen further than other men,” 
Newton once said, “it is because I stood on the shoulders of 
giants.” Doubtless, Kepler was one of the giants to whom he was 

Kepler’s contribution to astronomy is almost comparable to 
that of Copernicus. Indeed, in some ways Kepler’s achievement 
is even more impressive. He was more original, and the mathe- 
matical difficulties he faced were immense. Mathematical 
techniques were not as well developed in those times as they are 
today, and there were no calculating machines to ease Kepler’s 
computational tasks. : 

In view of the importance of Kepler’s achievements, it is 
surprising that his results were almost ignored at first, even by so 
great a scientist as Galileo. (Galileo’s neglect of Kepler’s laws is 
particularly surprising since the two men had corresponded with 
each other, and since Kepler’s results would have helped Galileo 
to refute the Ptolemaic theory.) But if others were slow to ap- 
preciate the magnitude of his achievement, Kepler understood it 
himself. In a burst of exultation he wrote: 

I give myself up to divine ecstasy...My book is written. It 
will be read either by my contemporaries or by posterity—I 
care not which. It may well wait a hundred years for a 
reader, as God has waited 6,000 years for someone to 
understand his work. 

376 THE 100 

Gradually though, over the course of a few decades, the 
significance of Kepler’s laws became apparent to the scientific 
world. In fact, later in the century, a major argument in favor of 
Newton’s theories was that Kepler’s laws could be deduced from 
them. Conversely, given Newton’s laws of motion, it is possible 
to rigorously deduce Newton’s laws of gravitation from Kepler’s 
laws. To do so, however, would require more advanced mathe- 
matical techniques than were available to Kepler. Even without 
such techniques, Kepler was perspicacious enough to suggest that 
planetary motions were controlled by forces emanating from the 

In addition to his laws of planetary motion, Kepler made 
various minor contributions to astronomy. He also made signifi- 
cant contributions to the theory of optics. His later years, un- 
fortunately, were clouded by personal problems. Germany was 
descending into the chaos of the Thirty Years’ War, and it was a 
rare individual that could escape serious difficulties. 

One problem he had was in collecting his salary. The Holy 
Roman emperors had been slow payers even in comparatively 
good times. In the chaos of war, Kepler’s salary fell far in arrears. 
Since Kepler had married twice and had twelve children, such 
financial difficulties were serious indeed. Another problem con- 
cerned his mother, who in 1620 was arrested as a witch. Kepler 
spent much time in an eventually successful attempt to have her 
released without being tortured. 

Kepler died in 1630, in Regensburg, Bavaria. In the turmoil 
of the Thirty Years’ War, his grave was soon destroyed. But his 
laws of planetary motion have proven a more enduring memorial 
than any made of stone. | 



Enrico Fermi, the man who designed the first nuclear reactor, 
was born in 1901, in Rome, Italy. He was a remarkably brilliant 
student and received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of 
Pisa before he was twenty-one years old. By the time he was 
twenty-six, he was a full professor at the University of Rome. By 
then he had already published his first major paper, one which 
concerned an abstruse branch of physics called quantum statis- 
tics. In that paper, Fermi developed the statistical theory used to 
describe the behavior of large aggregations of particles of the 
type today referred to as fermions. Since electrons, protons, and 
neutrons—the three “building blocks” of which ordinary matter 
is composed—are all fermions, Fermi’s theory is of considerable 
scientific importance. Fermi’s equations have enabled us to gain 
a better understanding of the nucleus of the atoms, of the 
behavior of degenerate matter (such as occurs in the interior of 


378 THE 100 

certain types of stars), and of the properties and behavior of 
metals—a topic of obvious practical utility. 

In 1933, Fermi formulated a theory of beta decay (a type of 
radioactivity) which included the first quantitative discussion of 
the neutrino and of weak interactions, both important topics in 
present-day physics. Research of that kind, though not readily 
comprehensible by laymen, established Fermi as one of the 
world’s leading physicists. However, Fermi’s most important 
accomplishments were yet to come. 

In 1932, the British physicist James Chadwick had 
discovered a new subatomic particle, the neutron. Starting in 
1934, Fermi proceeded to bombard most of the known chemical 
elements with neutrons. His experiments showed that many 
types of atoms were able to absorb neutrons, and that in many 
cases the atoms resulting from such a nuclear transformation 
were radioactive. One might have expected that it would be 
easier for a neutron to penetrate an atomic nucleus if the neutron 
were moving very rapidly. But Fermi’s experiments showed that 
the reverse was true, and that if fast neutrons were first slowed 
down by making them pass through paraffin or water, they 
could then be more readily absorbed by atoms. This discovery of 
Fermi’s has a very important application in the construction of 
nuclear reactors. The material which is used in reactors to slow 
down the neutrons is referred to as a moderator. 

In 1938, Fermi’s important research on the absorption of 
neutrons resulted in his being awarded a Nobel Prize in physics. 
Meanwhile, however, he was having trouble in Italy. In the first 
place, Fermi’s wife was Jewish, and the Fascist government in 
Italy had promulgated a set of harshly anti-Semitic laws. In the 
second place, Fermi was strongly opposed to Fascism—a 
dangerous attitude under Mussolini’s dictatorship. In December 
1938, when he went to Stockholm to accept his Nobel Prize, Fer- 
mi did not return to Italy. Instead, he went to New York, where 
Columbia University, delighted to add one of the world’s greatest 
scientists to its staff, had offered him a position. Fermi became a 
United States citizen in 1944. 

Enrico Fermi 379 

In early 1939, it was reported by Lise Meitner, Otto Hahn, 
and Fritz Strassmann that the absorption of neutrons sometimes 
caused uranium atoms to fission. When that report came out, 
Fermi (like several other leading physicists) promptly realized 
that a fissioning uranium atom might release enough neutrons to 
start a chain reaction. Furthermore, Fermi (again like several 
others) soon foresaw the military potentialities of such a chain 
reaction. By March 1939, Fermi had contacted the United States 
navy and tried to interest them in the development of atomic 
weapons. However, it was not until several months later, after 
Albert Einstein had written a letter on the subject to President 
Roosevelt, that the United States government became interested 
in atomic energy. 

Once the American government did become interested, the 
scientists’ first task was to construct a prototype atomic pile in 
order to see whether a self-sustaining chain reaction was indeed 
feasible. Since Enrico Fermi was the world’s leading authority on 
neutrons, and since he combined both experimental and 
theoretical talents, he was chosen to head the group attempting 
to construct the world’s first nuclear reactor. He worked first at 
Columbia University and then at the University of Chicago. It 
was in Chicago, on December 2, 1942, that the nuclear reactor 
which had been designed and constructed under Fermi’s supervi- 
sion first went into successful operation. That was the true begin- 
ning of the atomic age, for that was the first time that mankind 
succeeded in setting off a nuclear chain reaction. Notice of the 
successful test was promptly sent back East with the cryptic but 
prophetic words, “The Italian navigator has entered the new 
world.” Following this successful test, it was decided to go ahead 
at full speed with the Manhattan Project. Fermi continued to 
play an important role in that project as a leading scientific ad- 

After the war, Fermi became a professor at the University of 
Chicago. He died in 1954. Fermi was married and had two 
children. Chemical element number 100, fermium, is named in 
his honor. 

380 THE 100 

Fermi is an important figure for several reasons. In the first 
place, he was indisputably one of the greatest scientists of the 
twentieth century, and one of the very few who was outstanding 
both as a theoretician and as an experimenter. Only a few of his 
most important scientific achievements have been described in 
this article, but Fermi actually wrote well over 250 scientific ar- 
ticles during his career. 

In the second place, Fermi was a very important figure in 
the creation of the atomic bomb, though several other persons 
played equally important roles in that development. 

Fermi’s chief importance, however, derives from the 
leading role he played in the invention of the nuclear reactor. 
That Fermi deserves the principal credit for that invention is 
quite clear. He first made major contributions to the underlying 
theory, and then actually supervised the design and construction 
of the first reactor. 

Since 1945, no atomic weapons have been used in warfare, 
but a large number of nuclear reactors have been built to 
generate energy for peaceful purposes. Reactors are likely to be 
an even more important source of energy in the future. Further- 
more, some reactors are used to produce useful radioisotopes, 
with applications in medicine and in scientific research. Reactors 
are also—and more ominously—a source of plutonium, a 
substance which can be used to build atomic weapons. There are 
understandable fears that the nuclear reactor may pose great 
hazards to humanity, but nobody claims that it is an insignificant 
invention. For better or worse, Fermi’s work is likely to have a 
large influence on the world in the years to come. 



Leonhard Euler, the eighteenth-century Swiss mathematician 
and physicist, was one of the most brilliant and prolific scientists 
of all time. His work finds pervasive applications throughout 
physics and in many fields of engineering. 

Euler’s mathematical and scientific output was simply in- 
credible. He wrote thirty-two full-length books, several of which 
comprise more than one volume, and hundreds upon hundreds of 
original articles on mathematics or science. All told, his collected 
scientific writings fill more than seventy volumes! Euler’s genius 
enriched virtually every field of pure and applied mathematics, 
and his contributions to mathematical physics have an unending 
range of applications. 

Euler was particularly adept at demonstrating how the 
general laws of mechanics, which had been formulated in the 
preceding century by Isaac Newton, could be applied to certain 
frequently-occurring types of physical situations. For example, 


382 THE 100 

by applying Newton’s laws to the motion of fluids, Euler was 
able to develop the equations of hydrodynamics. Similarly, by a 
careful analysis of the possible motions of a rigid body, and by 
the application of Newton’s principles, Euler was able to develop 
a set of equations that completely determines the motion of a 
rigid body. In practice, of course, material objects are not com- 
pletely rigid. Euler, however, also made important contributions 
to the theory of elasticity, which describes how solid objects are 
deformed by the application of outside forces. 

Euler also applied his talents to the mathematical analysis of 
astronomical problems, particularly the three-body problem 
which deals with the question of how the sun, earth, and moon 
move under their mutual gravitational attraction. That 
problem—a problem for the twenty-first century—is still not 
completely solved. Incidentally, Euler was the only prominent 
scientist of the eighteenth century who (correctly, as it turned 
out) supported the wave theory of light. 

Euler’s fertile mind often provided the starting point for 
mathematical discoveries that have made other men famous. For 
example, Joseph Louis Lagrange, the French mathematical 
physicist, developed a set of equations (“Lagrange’s equations”) 
which are of great theoretical importance and which can be used 
to solve a wide variety of problems in mechanics. The basic equa- 
tion, however, was first discovered by Euler, and is usually refer- 
red to as the Euler-Lagrange equation. Another French 
mathematician, Jean Baptiste Fourier, is generally credited with 
the creation of the important mathematical technique known as 
Fourier analysis. Here, too, the basic equations were first 
discovered by Leonhard Euler, and are known as the Euler- 
Fourier formulas. They find wide application in many different 
fields of physics, including acoustics and electromagnetic theory. 

In his mathematical work, Euler was particularly interested 
in the fields of calculus, differential equations, and infinite 
series. His contributions to those fields, although very important, 
are too technical to be described here. His contributions to the 
calculus of variations and to the theory of complex numbers are 
basic to all subsequent developments in those fields. Both topics 

Leonhard Euler 383 

have a wide range of applications in scientific work, in addition 
to their importance to pure mathematics. 

Euler’s formula, e#@ = cos@ + isin 0, shows the relation- 
ship between trigonometric functions and imaginary numbers, 
and can be used to find the logarithms of negative numbers. It is 
one of the most widely used formulas in all of mathematics. 
Euler also wrote a textbook of analytic geometry, and made 
significant contributions to differential geometry and ordinary 

Although Euler had a happy facility for mathematical 
discoveries that were capable of scientific application, he was 
almost equally adept in the field of pure mathematics. Un- 
fortunately, his many contributions to the theory of numbers are 
too recondite to be described here. Euler was also an early 
worker in the field of topology, a branch of mathematics that has 
become very important in the twentieth century. 

Last but not least, Euler made important contributions to 
our present system of mathematical notation. For example, he is 
responsible for the common use of the Greek letter 77 to represent 
the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. He also 
introduced many other convenient notations which are now 
commonly used in mathematical work. 

Euler was born in 1707, in Basel, Switzerland. He was ad- 
mitted to the University of Basel in 1720, when he was only thir- 
teen years old. At first he studied theology, but he soon switched 
to mathematics. He received a master’s degree from the Universi- 
ty of Basel at seventeen, and when he was twenty accepted an in- 
vitation by Catherine I of Russia to join the Academy of Sciences 
at St. Petersburg. At age twenty-three he became professor of 
physics there, and at twenty-six he succeeded the famous 
mathematician Daniel Bernoulli in the Chair of Mathematics. 
Two years later he lost the sight of one eye; nevertheless, he con- 
tinued to work with great intensity, turning out a long succession 
of brilliant articles. 

In 1741, Frederick the Great of Prussia lured Euler away 
from Russia and induced him to join the Academy of Sciences in 
Berlin. He remained in Berlin for twenty-five years, returning to 

384 THE 100 

Russia in 1766. Shortly afterward, he lost the sight of his other 
eye. Even this calamity, however, did not halt his research. 
Euler possessed a spectacular facility for mental arithmetic, and 
until the year he died (1783, in St. Petersburg, at the age of 
seventy-six), he continued to turn out first-rate papers in 
mathematics. Euler was married twice and had _ thirteen 
children, eight of whom died as infants. 

All of Euler’s discoveries would eventually have been made, 
even had he himself never lived. I think, though, that the proper 
criterion to apply in such a case is to ask the question: how dif- 
ferent would science and the modern world be if the discoveries 
that he made had never been made at all? In the case of 
Leonhard Euler the answer seems fairly clear: modern science 
and technology would be greatly retarded, indeed almost un- 
thinkable, without Euler’s formulas, equations, and methods. A 
glance at the indexes of mathematics and physics textbooks shows 
references to: the Euler angles (rigid body motion); Euler’s cons- 
tant (infinite series); the Euler equations (hydrodynamics); 
Euler’s equations of motion (dynamics of rigid bodies); Euler’s 
formula (complex variables); the Euler numbers (infinite series); 
Euler's polygonal curves (differential equations); Euler’s 
theorem on homogeneous functions (partial differential equa- 
tions); Euler’s transformation (infinite series); the Bernoulli- 
Euler law (theory of elasticity); the Euler-Fourier formulas (trig- 
onometric series); the Euler-Lagrange equation (calculus of 
variations; mechanics); and the Euler-Maclaurin formula 
(numerical methods)—to mention only the most important ex- 

In view of all this, the reader may wonder why Euler has 
not been ranked higher on this list. The principal reason is that 
although he was brilliantly successful in showing how Newton’s 
laws could be applied, Euler never discovered any original 
principles of science himself. That is why such figures as Harvey, 
Réntgen, and Gregor Mendel, who each discovered basically new 
scientific phenomena or principles, have been ranked above him. 
Nevertheless, Euler contributions to science, engineering, and 
mathematics were immense. 




The famous philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in 
1712, in Geneva, Switzerland. His mother died shortly after his 
birth, and when Rousseau was ten years old, his father was exiled 
and left Geneva, leaving Rousseau behind. Rousseau himself left 
Geneva in 1728, when he was sixteen years old. For many years 
Rousseau was an unknown, wandering from one place to 
another, and from one temporary position to another. He had 
several love affairs, including one with Thérese Levasseur, by 
whom he had five illegitimate children. He placed all five 
children in a foundling home. (Eventually, when he was fifty-six 
years old, he married Thérése.) 

In 1750, at the age of thirty-eight, Rousseau leaped to sud- 
den fame. The Academy of Dijon had offered a prize for the best 


386 THE 100 

essay on the subject of whether or not the arts and sciences were 
beneficial to human society and morals. Rousseau’s essay, in 
which he concluded that the net result of the advancement of the 
sciences and arts was not beneficial to mankind, won first prize 
and promptly made him a famous man. Many other writings 
followed, including the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality 
(1755); La Nouvelle Héloise (1761); Emile (1762); The Social 
Contract (1762); and his Confessions (1770), and they all con- 
tributed to his prestige. In addition, Rousseau, who had always 
had a strong interest in music, wrote two operas, Les muses 
galantes and Le devin du village. 

Although at first Rousseau was a friend of several of the 
liberal writers of the French Enlightenment, including Denis 
Diderot and Jean d’Alembert, his ideas soon began to diverge 
seriously from the others. By opposing Voltaire’s plan for the for- 
mation of a theater in Geneva (Rousseau asserted that a theater 
was a school for immorality), Rousseau earned Voltaire’s lasting 
enmity. Aside from that, Rousseau’s general emotionalism con- 
trasted sharply with the rationalism of Voltaire and the En- 
cyclopedists. From 1762 on, Rousseau had serious trouble with 
the authorities because of his political writings. Some of his 
associates had become estranged from him, and about this time 
Rousseau started to become distinctly paranoid. Although a 
number of people befriended him, Rousseau, who was suspicious 
and hostile, quarreled with virtually all of them. For the last 
twenty years of his life, he was generally an embittered and 
miserably unhappy man. He died in 1778, in Ermenonville, 

Rousseau’s writings are said to have been a significant factor 
in the rise of socialism, nationalism, romanticism, totalitarian- 
ism, and anti-rationalism, as well as having paved the way for 
the French Revolution and contributed substantially to modern 
ideals of democracy and equality. He is credited with having had 
a major influence on educational theory. It has been contended 
that the theory that human beings are almost exclusively the pro- 
duct of their environment (and therefore completely malleable) 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 387 

is derived from his writings. And, of course, he is associated with 
the idea that modern technology and society are bad, and with 
originating the ideal of the “noble savage.” If he were indeed 
responsible for all these concepts, he would be entitled to a much 
higher place on this list. It seems to me, however, that many of 
these claims are incorrect or badly exaggerated. 

Consider, for example, the concept of the noble savage. In 
_the first place, Rousseau never used that phrase, nor was he an 
admirer of the natives of the South Sea Islands, or of the 
American Indians. The idea of the noble savage had, moreover, 
been common long before Rousseau’s time, and the well-known 
English poet John Dryden had used those exact words more than 
a century before Rousseau was born. Nor did Rousseau take the 
attitude that society was necessarily bad. Quite the contrary, he 
always insisted that society was necessary for man. 

That Rousseau originated the idea of the “social contract” is 
completely false. The idea was discussed at length by John 
Locke, whose works were published before Rousseau was born. 
In fact, the famous English philosopher Thomas Hobbes had 
discussed the idea of the social contract even before Locke. 

What about Rousseau’s opposition to technology? It is quite 
obvious that the two centuries since Rousseau’s death have seen 
unprecedented growth in technology. To the extent that 
Rousseau opposed technology, he was obviously completely inef- 
fectual. Furthermore, the anti-technological bias existing today 
is derived not from Rousseau’s writings, but is rather a response 
to the undesirable effects which the unrestrained applications of 
technology have produced during the last century. 

.Many other thinkers have suggested that environmental 
factors are of overwhelming importance in the formation of 
human character, and I think it unreasonable to credit Rousseau 
for this rather common idea. Similarly, nationalism was an im- 
portant force long before the French philosopher lived, and he 
had little to do with its rise. 

Did Rousseau’s writings help pave the way for the French 
Revolution? To some extent they undoubtedly did, and probably 


An etching of Rousseau by Naudet. 

significantly more so than those of Diderot or d’Alembert. 
However, the influence of Voltaire, whose writings were earlier, 
more numerous, and more clearly written, was a good deal 
greater in this regard. 

It is quite true that Rousseau was anti-rationalist by 
temperament, particularly in contrast with the other famous 
French writers of his day. But anti-rationalism was not new: our 
political and social beliefs are usually grounded in emotions and 
prejudices, although we frequently concoct seemingly rational 
arguments to justify them. 

But if Rousseau’s influence is not as great as some of his ad- 
mirers (or opponents) have claimed, it is nevertheless very large. 
It is perfectly true that he was an important factor in the rise of 
Romanticism in literature, and his influence on educational 
theory and practice has proven even more important. Rousseau 
minimized the importance of book learning in a child’s educa- 
tion, recommended that a child’s emotions should be educated 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 389 

before his reason, and emphasized the importance of a child’s 
learning through experience. (Incidentally, Rousseau was an ear- 
ly advocate of the advantages of breast feeding.) It may sound 
astonishing that a man who abandoned his own children should 
have had the audacity to lecture other people on how to raise 
theirs, but there is no question that Rousseau’s ideas have pro- 
foundly influenced modern educational theory. 

There are many interesting and original ideas in Rousseau’s 
political writings. But dominating them all is a passionate desire 
for equality, and an equally passionate feeling that the existing 
structure of society is unbearably unjust. (“Man is born free; and 
everywhere he is in chains.) Rousseau may not himself have 
called for violence, but he surely inspired others to prefer violent 
revolution to gradual reform. 

Rousseau’s views on private property (as well as on many 
other points) frequently contradicted each other. He once 
described property as “the most sacred of all the rights of 
citizens.” However, it seems safe to say that his attacks on private 
property had a greater effect on the attitudes of his readers than 
did his laudatory comments. Rousseau was one of the first 
modern writers of importance to seriously attack the institution 
of private property, and he can therefore be considered one of 
the forebears of modern socialism and Communism. 

Lastly, one must not ignore Rousseau’s constitutional 
theories. The central idea of The Social Contract is, in Rousseau’s 
words, “the total alienation of each associate, and all his rights, 
to the whole community.” Such a phrase leaves little room for 
civil liberties or for a bill of rights. Rousseau was himself a rebel 
against authority, but a major effect of his book has been to 
justify later totalitarian regimes. 

Rousseau has been criticized as an extremely neurotic (not to 
say paranoid) personality, as a male chauvinist, and as a mud- 
dled thinker whose ideas are impractical. Such criticisms are 
largely justified. But far more important than his shortcomings 
are his flashes of insight and brilliant originality, which have 
continued to influence modern thought for over two centuries. 






The Italian political philosopher Niccolé Machiavelli is notorious 
for his blunt advice that a ruler interested in maintaining and in- 
creasing his power should make use of deceitfulness, cunning, 
and lies, combined with a ruthless use of force. 

Denounced by many as an unscrupulous scoundrel, praised 
by others as a hard-headed realist who dared to describe the 
world as it really is, Machiavelli is one of the few writers whose 

_ works have been closely studied by philosophers and politicans 

Machiavelli was born in 1469, in Florence, Italy. His father, 
a lawyer, was a member of a prominent family, but was not well 
off financially. Throughout Machiavelli’s lifetime—the height of 
the Italian Renaissance—Italy was divided into many small prin- 
cipalities, in contrast to such relatively unified states as France, 
Spain, and England. It is therefore not surprising that in his day 
Italy was militarily weak, despite the brilliance of her culture. 
During Machiavelli’s youth, Florence was ruled by the 
famous Medici ruler, Lorenzo the Magnificent. But Lorenzo died 
in 1492, and a few years later, the Medici were driven from 
Florence. Florence became a republic, and in 1498, the twenty- 

nine-year-old Machiavelli obtained a high position in the Floren- 

Niccolo Machiavelli 391 

tine civil service. For the next fourteen years, he served the 
Florentine Republic and engaged in various diplomatic missions 
in its behalf, traveling to France, to Germany, and within Italy. 

In 1512, the Florentine Republic was overthrown, and the 
Medici returned to power. Machiavelli was dismissed from his 
office, and the following year, he was arrested on suspicion of be- 
ing involved in a conspiracy against the new Medici rulers. He 
was tortured, but maintained his innocence and was released 
that same year. Afterward, he retired to a small estate at San 
Casciano, not far from Florence. 

During the next fourteen years, he wrote several books, of 
which the two most famous are The Prince (written in 1513) and 
the Discourses Upon the First Ten Books of Titus Livius. Among 
his other works are The Art of War, a History of Florence, and 
La Mandragola (a fine play, still performed occasionally). 
However, his principal fame rests upon The Prince, perhaps the 
most brilliantly written and certainly the most easily readable of 
all philosophical treatises. Machiavelli was married and had six 
children. He died in 1527, at the age of fifty-eight. 

The Prince may be considered a primer of practical advice 
for a head of state. The basic point of view of the book is that in 
order to succeed, a prince should ignore moral considerations en- 
tirely and depend upon strength and cunning. Machiavelli 
stresses heavily the importance—above all else—of a state being 
_ well-armed. He emphasizes that only armies conscripted from a 
state’s own citizens are reliable; a state that depends on 
mercenary troops, or upon the troops of other states, is necessari- 
ly weak and endangered. 

Machiavelli advises the prince to gain the support of the 
populace, since otherwise he will have no resource in adversity. 
Of course, Machiavelli understands that sometimes a new ruler, 
in order to secure his power, must do things that displease his 
subjects. He suggests, though, that, “ taking a state the con- 
queror must arrange to commit all his cruelties at once, so as not 
to have to recur to them every day... Benefits should be granted 
little by little, so that they may be better enjoyed.” 

To be successful, a prince must surround himself with capa- 

392 THE 100 

ble and loyal ministers; Machiavelli warns the prince to shun 
flatterers and offers advice on how to do so. 

In Chapter 17 of The Prince, Machiavelli discusses whether 
it is better for a prince to be loved or feared: 

The reply is that one ought to be both feared and loved, is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the 
two has to be wanting... for love is held by a chain of obliga- 
tion which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves 
their purposes; but fear is maintained by a dread of punish- 
ment which never fails. 

Chapter 18 is entitled “In What Way Princes Must Keep 
Faith.” Machiavelli states that “...a prudent ruler ought not to 
keep faith when by so doing it would be against his interest...” 
He adds, “Nor have legitimate grounds ever failed a prince who 
wished to show excuse for the non-fulfillment of his promise,” 
_ for, “ are so simple and so ready to obey present 
necessities, that one who deceives will always find those who 
allow themselves to be deceived.” As a natural corollary of such 
views, Machiavelli advises his prince to be suspicious of the pro- 
mises of others. 

The Prince has often been called “a handbook for dictators.” 
Machiavelli’s career and his other writings indicate that in 
general he preferred republican government to dictatorship. But 
he was appalled by the political and military weakness of Italy, 
and he wished for a strong prince who would unite the country 
and drive out the various foreign invaders whose armies were in- 
juring the land. It is interesting to note that although Machiavelli 
advocated that the prince adopt a cynical and ruthless practicali- 
ty, he himself was idealistic and patriotic, and was not very 
adept at the deception that he recommended. 

Few political philosophers have been so vehemently de- 
nounced as Machiavelli has been. For years, he was condemned 
as virtually the devil incarnate, and his name was employed as a 
synonym for duplicity and cunning. (Not infrequently, the most 
vehement denunciations came from those who practiced what 
Machiavelli preached—a hypocrisy of which Machiavelli might 
approve, in principle!) 

—— : 

+ eer em aS eee 

Bust of Niccolo Machiavelli by an unknown Florentine sculptor. 

Criticisms of Machiavelli on moral grounds do not, of 
course, indicate that he has been uninfluential. More pertinent in 
that respect is the objection that his ideas were not particularly 
original. There is some truth in such a claim. Machiavelli stated 
repeatedly that he was not suggesting a new policy, but rather 
was pointing out the techniques that many successful princes, 


394 THE 100 

from time immemorial, had already used successfully. In fact, 
Machiavelli constantly illustrates his suggestions by giving strik- 
ing examples from ancient history, or from more recent Italian 
events. Cesare Borgia (whom Machiavelli praises in The Prince) 
did not learn his tactics from Machiavelli; quite the reverse, 
~ Machiavelli learned from him. 

Although Benito Mussolini was one of the few political 
leaders ever to praise Machiavelli publicly, there is no doubt that 
a large number of prominent political figures have read The 
Prince with care. It was said of Napoleon that he slept with a 
copy of The Prince beneath his pillow, and similar remarks have 
been made concerning Hitler and Stalin. Still, it does not seem 
clear that Machiavellian tactics are more prevalent in modern 
politics than they were before publication of The Prince. That is 
the principal reason why Machiavelli has not been ranked higher 
in this book. 

But if the extent of Machiavelli’s effect on political practice 
is unclear, his influence on political theory is indisputable. 
Earlier writers, such as Plato and St. Augustine, had intertwined 
politics with ethics or theology. Machiavelli discussed history and 
politics in purely human terms, and simply ignored moral con- 
siderations. The central question, he implies, is not how people 
should behave, but how they actually do behave; not who should 
have power, but how men actually achieve power. That political 
theory is discussed today in a far more realistic manner than 
formerly is to no small extent due to Machiavelli’s influence. He 
is rightly considered to be one of the principal founders of 
modern political thought. 



In 1798, a previously obscure English parson, Thomas Robert 
Malthus, published a short but highly influéntial book entitled 
An Essay on the Principle of Population as It Affects the Future 
Improvement of Society. 

Malthus’s basic thesis was the idea that the growth of 
population tends to outrun the growth of food supply. In his 
original essay, Malthus presented this idea in fairly rigid form, 
claiming that population tended to increase geometrically (i.e., 
exponentially, such as the numbers in the series J, 2, 4, 8, 16...) 
whereas the food supply tended to increase only arithmetically 
(i.e., linearly, as the numbers in the series 1, 2, 3, 4,5...). In 
later editions of his book, Malthus restated his thesis in less rigid 


396 THE 100 

terms, saying only that population tended to increase indefinitely 
until it reached the limit of the food supply. From both forms of 
his thesis, Malthus drew the conclusion that the bulk of mankind 
was doomed to live in poverty and near-starvation. In the long 
-run, no advances in technology could avert that result, for in- 
creases in the food supply are of necessity limited, while “the 
power of population is indefinitely greater than the power of the 
earth to produce subsistence for man.” 

But can not population growth be checked in some other 
way? Indeed it can be. War, pestilence, or other disasters fre- 
quently reduce the population. But these scourges provide only 
temporary relief from the threat of overpopulation, and at an ob- 
viously unpleasant cost. Malthus suggested that a preferable way 
of avoiding overpopulation would be “moral restraint’”—by 
which he appears to have meant a combination of late marriage, 
premarital chastity, and voluntary restraints on the frequency of 
marital intercourse. Malthus, however, was realistic enough to 
realize that most people would not exercise such restraint. He 
concluded that, as a practical matter, overpopulation was virtu- 
ally inevitable, and that poverty was therefore the almost in- 
escapable fate of most human beings. A pessimistic conclusion in- 

Although Malthus himself never advocated population con- 
trol through the use of contraceptive devices, the suggestion of 
such a policy was a natural consequence of his basic ideas. The 
first person to publicly advocate the widespread use of con- 
traceptive devices in order to prevent overpopulation was the in- 
fluential British reformer, Francis Place (1771-1854). Place, who 
had read Malthus’s essay and was strongly influenced by it, 
wrote a book in 1822, advocating contraception. He also dis- 
seminated birth control information among the working classes. 
In the United States, Dr. Charles Knowlton published a book on 
contraception in 1832. The first “Malthusian League” was form- 
ed in the 1860s, and the advocates of family planning have con- 
tinued to gain adherents. Since Malthus himself disapproved, on 
moral grounds, of the use of contraceptives, the advocates of 

Thomas Malthus 397 

population control by means of contraception are usually refer- 
red to as neo-Malthusians. 

Malthus’s doctrine has also had an important effect on 
economic theory. Economists influenced by Malthus came to the 
conclusion that, under normal conditions, overpopulation would 
prevent wages from rising significantly above the subsistence 
level. The famous English economist David Ricardo (who was a 
personal friend of Malthus) stated: “The natural price of labor is 
that price which is necessary to enable the laborers, one with 
another, to subsist and to perpetuate the race, without either in- 
crease or diminution.” This theory, generally referred to as the 
“iron law of wages,” was accepted by Karl Marx, and became a 
critical element in his theory of surplus value. 

Malthus’s views also influenced the study of biology. 
Charles Darwin stated that he had read the Essay on the Princi- 
ple of Population, and that this provided him with an important 
link in his theory of evolution by natural selection. 

Malthus was born in 1766, near Dorking, in Surrey, 
England. He attended Jesus College of Cambridge University, 
where he was an excellent student. He graduated in 1788 and 
was ordained an Anglican clergyman in the same year. In 1791, 
he got a master’s degree, and in 1793, he became a fellow of Jesus 

The first version of his famous work was originally publish- 
ed anonymously, but it was widely read and soon brought 
Malthus fame. A longer version of his essay was published five 
years later, in 1803. The book was repeatedly revised and ex- 
panded, the sixth edition appearing in 1826. 

Malthus married in 1804, at the age of thirty-eight. In 1805, 
he was appointed professor of history and political economy at 
the East India Company’s College at Haileybury. He remained 
at that position for the rest of his life. Malthus wrote several 
other books on economics, the most important being the Prin- 
ciples of Political Economy (1820). That book influenced many 
later economists, particularly the important twentieth-century 
figure John Maynard Keynes. In his later years, Malthus received 

398 THE 100 

many honors. He died in 1834, at the age of sixty-eight, near 
Bath, England. Two of his three children survived him. There 
were no grandchildren. 

Since the use of contraceptives did not spread widely until 
long after Malthus died, it is sometimes suggested that Malthus 
was not really influential. J think that this view is incorrect. In 
the first place, Malthus’s ideas strongly influenced both Charles 
Darwin and Karl Marx, perhaps the two most influential 
thinkers of the nineteenth century. In the second place, although 
the policies of the neo-Malthusians were not immediately 
adopted by the majority of the population, their suggestions were 
not ignored, and their ideas never died out. The present-day 
birth control movement is a direct continuation of the movement 
started during Malthus’s own lifetime. 

Thomas Malthus was not the first person to call attention to 
the possibility that an otherwise well-governed country might 
suffer from overpopulation. That idea had been previously sug- 
gested by several other philosophers. Malthus himself pointed out 
that both Plato and Aristotle had discussed the topic. Indeed, he 
quotes Aristotle, who had written, in part, “ the generality 
of states, if every person be left free to have as many children as 
he pleases, the necessary consequence must be poverty....” 

But if Malthus’s basic idea was not entirely original, one 
should not underestimate his importance. Plato and Aristotle had 
only mentioned the idea in passing, and their brief remarks on 
the topic had been largely ignored. It was Malthus who 
elaborated the idea and wrote extensively on the subject. More 
important, Malthus was the first person to stress the overwhelm- 
ing importance of the problem of overpopulation, and to bring 
this problem to the attention of the intellectual world. 

= _ 



John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in 1917, in Brookline, 
Massachusetts. He was President of the United States from 
January 20, 1961, to November 22, 1963, when he was 
assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I shall omit most of the other 
biographical information concerning Kennedy, partly because 
such information is generally well known, but primarily because 
most of Kennedy’s personal and political activities have little 
relevance to his presence on this list. 

A thousand years from now, neither the Peace Corps, nor 
the Alliance for Progress, nor the Bay of Pigs is likely to be much 
remembered. Nor will it seem very important what Kennedy’s 
policies were concerning taxes or civil rights legislation. John F. 
Kennedy has been placed on this list for one reason only: he was 


400 THE 100 

the person who was primarily responsible for instituting the 
Apollo Space Program. Providing that the human race has not 
blown itself to smithereens in the intervening time, we can be 
fairly sure that even 5,000 years from now, our trip to the moon 
will still be regarded as a truly momentous event, one of the great 
landmarks in human history. 

I will discuss the importance of the moon program a little 
further on. First, however, let me deal with the question of 
whether John F’.. Kennedy is really the man who deserves the 
most credit for that trip. Should we not instead credit Neil Arm- 
strong or Edwin Aldrin, the first men who actually set foot on the 
moon? If we were ranking people on the basis of enduring fame, 
that might be the correct thing to do, for I rather suspect that 
Neil Armstrong is more likely to be remembered 5,000 years from 
now than John F. Kennedy. From the standpoint of influence, 
however, Armstrong and Aldrin were completely unimportant. 
If by some misfortune those two men had died two months prior 
to the launching of Apollo 11, there were a dozen well-trained 
and highly competent astronauts who could have taken their 

Should we then give the credit to Wernher von Braun, or to 
some other scientist or engineer who made an important con- 
tribution to the science of space travel? There is no doubt that 
Wernher von Braun did more than his share to advance space ex- 
ploration (as did such important predecessors as Konstantin 
Tsiolkovsky, Robert H. Goddard, and Hermann Oberth). Once, 
however, the political decision had been made to proceed with 
the Apollo project, no one scientist—nor any group of ten 
scientists—was crucial to its success. The crucial breakthrough in 
the trip to the moon was not a particular scientific advance, but 
rather the political decision to go ahead and spend 24 billion 
dollars on the project. 

Well, what about the political decision then? Would not 
that decision have been made sooner or later, even without John 
F. Kennedy? I strongly suspect—although, of course, there is no 
way of being absolutely certain—that eventually some govern- 

John F. Kennedy 40] 

ment would have decided to finance a manned voyage to the 
moon. Certainly, John F. Kennedy did not force through the 
Apollo program over the objections of the public. 

On the other hand, neither was there any great public 
pressure in favor of such a grandiose project. If in 1959 or 1960, 
the United States Congress had passed legislation setting up the 
Apollo program and appropriating the funds for it, and if the 
bills had then been vetoed by President Eisenhower, then it 

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts left this footstep 
on the moon, fulfilling Kennedy’s pledge of May 1961 to land 
a manned space-craft on the moon “before this decade is out.” 

402 THE 100 

might be said that Kennedy was merely going along with the tide 
of public opinion. The actual facts, however, are quite different: 
many Americans wanted some sort of space program, but there 
was no great public clamor for a really large program. Indeed, 
even after the success of Apollo 11, there was considerable public 
argument over whether the project had been worth the expense. 
Since 1969, of course, the NASA budget has fallen drastically. 

It is plain therefore that it was John F. Kennedy’s leadership 
which was actually responsible for getting the Apollo project 
started. It was he who in May 1961 committed the United States 
to landing a manned spacecraft on the moon, “before this decade 
is out.” It was he who obtained the appropriations from Con- 
gress, and it was under him that the program was set up. One 
may be convinced that a moon program would have been estab- 
lished sooner or later anyway (which is not completely certain); 
nevertheless, Kennedy is the person who actually did it. 

Some people, of course, still feel that the Apollo project was 
just a gigantic boondoggle and not really important. So far, there 
has been little move to make the anniversary of July 20, 1969 (the 
date of the actual landing on the moon), a national holiday. On 
the other hand, we might remember that although Columbus 
Day was not celebrated in the sixteenth century, it is celebrated 
today as the dawn of a new age. 

Even if the Apollo project is never followed up, it will be 
forever remembered as one of the greatest achievements of the 
human race. I suspect, however, that the Apollo program even- 
tually will be followed up, and that space travel will play a far 
greater role in the future than it has in the past. If so, our descen- 
dants will feel that the voyage of Apollo 11, like Columbus’s 
voyage across the Atlantic, was the start of an entire new era in 
human history. 



Gregory Pincus was the American biologist who played the prin- 
cipal role in the development of the oral contraceptive pill. 
Although he was never particularly well known, he had far more 
actual influence on the world than many people who are world- 

The pill has a twofold importance. In a world that is in- 
creasingly concerned with the dangers of overpopulation, the 
significance of the pill as an agent for population control is ob- 
vious. Less direct perhaps, but equally revolutionary, is the ef- 
fect the pill has had in changing sexual mores. It is widely recog- 
nized that over the last thirty years there has been a revolution 
in sexual attitudes in the United States. Doubtless, there are 
many other political, economic, and sociological factors that have 


404 THE 100 

influenced that revolution; but the largest single factor has clearly 
been the advent of the pill. Previously, the fear of unwanted preg- 
nancy was a major factor in inhibiting many women from engaging 
in pre-marital, or even marital, sex. Suddenly, women have been 
presented with the opportunity to engage in sexual relations with- 
out fear of pregnancy, and the change in circumstances has fre- 
quently produced a change in both attitude and behavior. 

It might be objected that the development of Enovid (the 
first birth control pill) was not really all that important, since 
safe and reasonably reliable contraceptive methods had been 
known previously. Such an argument ignores the distinction be- 
tween a method of contraception that is technically effective and 
one that is psychologically acceptable. Before the development of 
the pill, the contraceptive most recommended by “experts” was 
the diaphragm. Diaphragms are indeed safe and reasonably reli- 
able, but in practice the great majority of women were, and still 
are, reluctant to use them. It is noteworthy that when the pill 
was first being tested, many hundreds of women preferred to 
take a chance with an untried (and perhaps dangerous) method 
of birth control, rather than use the safe and time-tested 

It might also be objected that the development of Enovid 
was not really such a great triumph, since there are some risks to 
health involved in its use, and since it may eventually be super- 
seded— perhaps even in the near future—by newer and safer 
drugs or devices. But in the nature of things, future methods 
of contraception can represent only a comparatively slight im- 
provement, since the pill is already widely accepted and is gen- 
erally satisfactory. (It is worth noting that over the past thirty 
years—a period during which many millions of American 
women began using the pill regularly—life expectancy among 
American women has increased significantly. That fact alone 
should make it obvious that the pill is not a major health hazard.) 
History will, or at least should, consider the development of 
Enovid in the 1950s as the crucial breakthrough in birth control 

Gregory Pincus 405 

Many persons contributed to the development of the oral 
contraceptive pill. Indeed, the idea had been talked about for a 
long time; the trouble was that nobody knew just what chemicals 
should go inside such a pill. Curiously, the key discovery had 
been made as far back as 1937. In that year, A. W. Makepeace, 
G. L. Weinstein, and M. H. Friedman had demonstrated that 
injections of progesterone (one of the female sex hormones) 
would inhibit ovulation in laboratory animals. However— 
perhaps because hypodermic injections did not sound like an at- 
tractive method of birth control, or perhaps because progester- 
one was at that time an extremely expensive chemical—that 
discovery had not aroused the interest of birth control advocates. 

The main development of the pill did not start until about 
1950, when the American biologist Gregory Pincus began to 
work on the problem. Apparently it was Margaret Sanger, the 
long-time advocate of family planning, who persuaded him to 
work on the project. She could hardly have chosen a better man, 
for Pincus was an expert in steroid metabolism and in the 
physiology of reproduction in mammals, as well as being director 
of laboratories at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental 
Biology, in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. 

Apparently Pincus, with his superb combination of technical 
knowledge and scientific intuition, hit upon the general nature of 
the solution almost immediately. Soon he had Dr. Min-Chueh 
Chang, a researcher at the Worcester Foundation, testing pro- 
gesterone on laboratory animals, to see if it would suppress 
ovulation even when taken orally. Chang’s experiments were 
successful. This was certainly a promising beginning, particular- 
ly in view of the fact that a few years earlier a chemist named 
Russell Marker had invented a way to synthesize progesterone 

Another important contributor was Dr. John Rock, a gyne- 
cologist who, at Pincus’s suggestion, conducted tests which show- 
ed that progesterone, taken orally, would inhibit ovulation in 
human females. However, Rock’s research also disclosed two 
serious difficulties with using progesterone as an oral contracep- 

406 THE L00 

tive. In the first place, it only suppressed ovulation about 85 per- 
cent of the time. In the second place, unreasonably large doses 
were needed to accomplish even that. 

But Pincus, who was convinced that he was on the right 
track, was not ready to give up. He realized that there might be 
another compound chemically similar to progesterone, but with- 
out its disadvantages. In September 1953, he asked various 
chemical companies to send him samples of any synthetic steroids 
they had manufactured that were chemically related to pro- 
gesterone. Pincus tested the chemicals that he received, and one 
of them, norethynodrel (manufactured by G. D. Searle and 
Company), seemed particularly effective. 

This was a lucky break for Pincus, since when he had begun 
his research, back in 1950, norethynodrel had not even existed! It 
had been synthesized in 1952 by Dr. Frank B. Colton, a 
biochemist working in the Searle laboratories, and was later 
patented in his name. However, neither Colton nor any of his 
supervisors at G. D. Searle had been deliberately trying to create 
an oral contraceptive—nor at the time did they realize they had 
created one. 

Further tests performed by the research group that had been 
assembled by Pincus indicated that norethynodrel would be still 
more effective if supplemented by a small admixture of another 
chemical, mestranol. It was this combination of drugs which was 
eventually marketed by G. D. Searle and Company as Enovid. 

By 1955, Pincus could see that the time was ripe for a large- 
scale field test of the pill. The tests were begun in April 1956, ina 
suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico, under the supervision of Dr. 
Edris Rice-Wray. Within about nine months, her tests indicated 
how strikingly effective the oral contraceptive pill was. Never- 
theless, testing was continued for three more years before the 
Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of 
Enovid in May 1960. 

From the foregoing, it is obvious that re Pincus did 
not develop the contraceptive pill by himself. It was Frank Col- 
ton who actually created norethynodrel; clearly, Colton and the 

Gregory Pincus 407 

various chemists who paved the way for his achievement are en- 
titled to a considerable part of the credit. Similarly, various other 
men who worked with the Pincus group, including John Rock, 
Min-Chueh Chang, and Dr. Celso-Ramon Garcia made impor- 
tant contributions. For that matter, Dr. Rice-Wray, Margaret 
Sanger, and various others whom [ have not mentioned each 
played a role in the overall accomplishment. Nevertheless, there 
seems no doubt that Gregory Pincus was the principal figure and 
the driving force behind the entire project. He was the scientist 
who decided to devote his time and effort to an active search for 
an oral contraceptive; he was the one who had the scientific and 
organizational ability to carry the project through successfully; 
he thought of the basic idea, obtained financing for the research, 
and got other talented men to work on the project. He had the vi- 
sion and determination to push the project through to successful 
completion, and he is the one who has received, and who de- 
serves, the principal credit for the accomplishment. | 

Gregory Pincus was born in 1903, in Woodbine, New 
Jersey, the son of Russian-Jewish parents. He graduated from 
Cornell in 1924, and received a doctorate from Harvard in 1927. 
Afterward, he did research in several institutions, including Har- 
vard and Cambridge, and was a professor at Clark for several 
years. In 1944, he helped found the Worcester Foundation for 
Experimental Biology, and for a long time afterwards was direc- 
tor of laboratories there. He was the author of over 250 scientific 
papers, as well as a book, The Conquest of Fertility, published in 
1965. | 

During his lifetime, Pincus received many scientific honors; 
however, neither he nor any of the men involved in the develop- 
ment of the pill received a Nobel Prize. When Pincus died in 
Boston, in 1967, his death went almost unnoticed by the generai 
public, and for that matter, by most scientists. Today, few en- 
cyclopedias even mention his name. Nevertheless, he was the 
principal architect of one of the most significant developments in 
human history. . 




The third-century prophet Mani was the founder of Mani- 
chaeism, a religion which, though extinct today, at its height had 
a very large number of followers. Originating in the Middle East, 
Manichaeism spread as far west as the Atlantic Ocean and as far 
east as the Pacific. It endured for well over a thousand years. 

The religion that Mani created was an interesting synthesis 
of ideas from earlier religions. Mani recognized Zoroaster, Bud- 
dha, and Jesus as true prophets, but claimed to have received a 
later and more complete revelation than any of them. 

Though Buddhist and Christian elements are present in 
Mani’s religion, the doctrine that seems most striking (at least to 
Westerners) derives from Zoroastrian dualism. Mani taught that 
the world is not ruled by a single deity, but is rather the site of a 
continuous struggle between two forces. One of these is the evil 
principle, which Mani identified with darkness and matter; the 
other is the good principle, which he identified with light and 
spirit. Superficially this sounds somewhat like the Christian no- 

Mani 409 

tions of God and the Devil; however, in Manichaeism the good 
and evil principles are considered to be basically equal in power. 
As a consequence of this belief, the philosophical paradox of the 
existence of evil, which has so troubled Christian and Jewish 
philosophers, presents no problem at all in Manichaean 

There is no space here to describe the details of Manichaean 
theology. However, it must be mentioned that as a consequence 
of their identification of man’s soul with the good principle and 
his body with the evil principle, Manichaeans believed that all 
sexual relations—even for the purpose of procreation—should be 
avoided. There were also prohibitions against the eating of meat 
and the drinking of wine. 

At first sight, it might seem impossible for such a doctrine to 
gain and retain a large following. However, the full set of pro- 
hibitions was not applicable to the ordinary member of the 
Manichaean Church, but only to a small number called “the 
Elect.” Ordinary members, “the Hearers,” were permitted to 
have wives (or mistresses), to raise families, to eat meat, to drink 
wine, and so on. There were various religious rites that the 
Hearers were bound to observe, and they were obliged to support 
the Elect, but the moral code imposed upon them was not 
unreasonably difficult. (There are, of course, other religions 
where celibacy is required of priests or monks, but not of the 
mass of followers.) The souls of the Elect went straight to para- 
dise after death; for the Hearers the route to paradise was 
somewhat longer. However, some Manichaean sects, such as the 
Cathari, believed that Hearers could achieve paradise as readily 
as the Elect, and in addition, were accorded considerable license 
while alive. 

Mani was born in 216, in Mesopotamia, which at that time 
was part of the Persian Empire under the Arsacid or Parthian 
dynasty. Mani himself was of Persian ancestry and was related to 
the Arsacid rulers. Most Persians subscribed to some form of 
Zoroastrianism, but Mani was brought up in a small religious 
sect that was strongly influenced by Christian doctrine. He had 

410 THE 100 

religious visions when he was twelve, and he began to preach his 
new religion when he was twenty-four. Not very successful at 
first in his native land, he traveled to northwest India, where he 
succeeded in converting a local ruler. 

In 242, he returned to Persia, where he gained an audience 
with King Shapur I. Although Shapur did not become a convert, 
he was well impressed with Mani and permitted him to teach his 
new religion throughout the Persian Empire. (This later Persian 
Empire is sometimes called the Sassanid Empire, after a new 
dynasty established about 226.) For the next thirty years or so, 
under Shapur I and Hormizd I, Mani preached without hin- 
drance and gained large numbers of followers. During this 
period, missions were also sent to foreign countries. However, 
Mani’s success aroused the antagonism of the priests of the 
Zoroastrian religion, which became the state religion of Persia 
during the Sassanid dynasty. About 276, after a new king, 
Bahram I, ascended the throne, Mani was arrested and imprison- 
ed. After a cruel twenty-six-day ordeal, he died. 

During his lifetime, Mani wrote several books: one in Per- 
sian, the others in Syriac (a Semitic langauge closely related to 
the Aramaic of Jesus’ time). These became the canonical books of 
the Manichaean religion. After the religion became extinct, the 
Manichaean scriptures were lost; however, some have been - 
rediscovered during the twentieth century. 

From the beginning, Manichaeism was a vigorously prose- 
lytizing religion. During the prophet’s own lifetime his religion 
gained adherents from India to Europe. After he died, it con- 
tinued to grow, eventually spreading as far west as Spain and as 
far east as China. In the West, it reached its height during the 
fourth century, at which time it was a serious rival to Christiani- 
ty. (St. Augustine was an adherent of Manichaeism for nine 
years.) But after Christianity became the state religion of the 
Roman Empire, Manichaeism was severely persecuted, and by 
about 600, it was largely eliminated from the West. 

It was still strong, however, in Mesopotamia and Iran. 
From there it spread into Central Asia, Turkestan, and western 

Mani 41] 

China. In the late eighth century, it became the official religion 
of the Uighurs, who controlled a substantial region in western 
China and Mongolia. It also spread into China proper, all the 
way to the coast, and from there to the island of Taiwan. 
However, the advent of Islam in the seventh century ultimately 
resulted in the decline of Manichaeism. Starting in the eighth 
century, the Abbasid Caliphs in Baghdad severely persecuted 
Manichaeism, and after a while it died out in Mesopotamia and 
Iran. From the ninth century on, it declined in Central Asia as 
well, and the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century prac- 
tically finished it off. Nevertheless, Marco Polo encountered 
Manichaean communities in eastern China in about 1300. 

Meanwhile, various sects deriving from Manichaeism arose 
in Europe. The Paulicians appeared in the Byzantine Empire 
starting in the seventh century. The Bogomils, who were 
strongest in the Balkans, appeared about the tenth century. But 
the most notable of these European offshoots were the Cathari 
(better known as the Albigensians, after the French town of Albi, 
which was one of their strongholds). In the twelfth century, the 
Cathari gained a wide following in Europe, particularly in 
southern France. The Albigensians, though their doctrines more 
closely resembled Manichaeism, considered themselves Chris- 
tians; the orthodox Church authorities considered them to be 
heretics. Eventually, Pope Innocent III, the most powerful and 
least tolerant of medieval popes, called for a crusade against 
them. The crusade began in 1209; by 1244, after an appalling 
loss of life and the devastation of a large part of southern France, 
the Albigensians were thoroughly crushed. Nevertheless, 
Catharism did not become extinct in Italy until the fifteenth cen- 

Any religion has a large effect upon the lives of its sincere 
adherents. For this reason, the founder of even a minor religion is 
frequently a person of considerable influence. Manichaeism, 
although it is now extinct, was for a time a major religion, and 
Mani was therefore a very influential person. (An unfortunate, 
but not negligible consequence of Mani’s teachings was that 

A miniature, probably of the 8th or 9th century, depicting 
two rows of Manichaean priests in ritual costume. 


Mani 413 

other established religions launched numerous persecutions to 
crush Manichaeism. ) 

Mani’s personal role in the creation of the new religion was 
overwhelming. He founded it, devised its theology, and prescrib- 
ed its moral code. It is true that many of his ideas derived from 
earlier thinkers, but it was Mani who combined these separate 
strands of thought into a distinctive new system. He also made 
many converts to Manichaeism by his preaching, created its ec- 
clesiastical organization, and wrote its holy scriptures. Rarely 
has an important mass movement been so strikingly the creation 
of a single founder. It is obvious that the religion he founded 
would never have come into existence without him, and in this 
respect, Mani, like many religious leaders, seems to be far more 
important than most scientists and inventors. 

Mani, therefore, clearly belongs somewhere on this list: the 
question is where? Obviously, he should be ranked far below the 
founders of the three principal world religions (Christianity, 
Islam, and Buddhism), whose followers over the course of time 
have numbered in the billions. On the other hand, even though 
Zoroastrianism and Jainism still survive today while 
Manichaeism has disappeared, it appears that Manichaeism, 
which at its height had far more adherents than either of those 
two religions, had a larger overall impact on the world than they 
did. It is for that reason that Mani has been ranked higher than 
either Zoroaster or Mahavira. 




Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, best known today by his pseudonym, 

. Lenin, was the political leader principally responsible for the 

establishment of Communism in Russia. An ardent disciple of 
Karl Marx, Lenin initiated policies that had only been hinted at 
by Marx himself. Because of the rapid spread of Lenin’s variety 
of Communism into many areas of the world, he must be 
acknowledged as one of history’s most influential men. 

Lenin was born in 1870, in the town of Simbirsk (now called 
Ulyanovsk in his honor), in Russia. His father was a loyal govern- 
ment official, but his older brother, Alexander, was a young 
radical who was executed for having taken part in a plot to 
assassinate the Czar. By the age of twenty-three, Lenin had 

Lenin 415 

himself become a fervent Marxist. In December 1895, he was ar- 
rested by the Czarist government for his revolutionary activities 
and spent fourteen months in jail, after which he was exiled to 

In the course of his three years in Siberia (which do not ap- 
pear to have been particularly unpleasant for him), he married a 
fellow revolutionary, and produced the book The Development 
of Capitalism in Russia. His term in Siberia ended in February 
1900, and a few months later Lenin traveled to western Europe. 
He spent the next seventeen years there, working as a profes- 
sional revolutionary. When the Russian Social-Democratic 
Workers Party, to which he belonged, split into two factions, 
Lenin became the leader of the larger faction, the Bolsheviks. 

World War I presented Lenin with his great opportunity. 
The war was a military and economic disaster for Russia, and it 
greatly increased dissatisfaction with the entire Czarist system. 
The Czarist government was overthrown in March 1917, and for 
a while it seemed that Russia might be governed by a democratic 
regime. Upon learning of the czar’s downfall, Lenin immediately 
returned to Russia. When he got there, he was perceptive enough 
to see that the democratic parties, though they had already 
established a provisional government, had no great power, and 
that there was an excellent opportunity for the well-disciplined 
Communist party to seize control, despite its small numbers. He 
therefore urged the Bolsheviks to work for the immediate over- 
throw of the provisional government and its replacement by a 
Communist one. An attempted uprising in July was unsuccessful, 
and Lenin had to go into hiding. A second attempt, in November 
1917, succeeded, and Lenin became the new head of state. 

As a government leader, Lenin was ruthless but highly 
pragmatic. At first, he pushed for an uncompromising and rapid 
transition to a completely socialistic economy. When this did not 
work out, he was flexible enough to reverse himself, and to in- 
stitute a mixed capitalist-socialist economy, which continued in 
the Soviet Union for several years. 

In May 1922, Lenin had a serious stroke, and between then 

416 THE 100 

and his death in 1924, he was almost completely incapacitated. 
Following his death, his body was carefully enbalmed and pre- 
served, and put on display in a mausoleum in Red Square in 

Lenin is primarily important as the man of action who led the 
Bolsheviks to power in Russia, and by so doing established the 
first Communist government anywhere in the world. He was the 
man who first took the theories of Karl Marx and translated them 
into actual political practice. The establishment of that first foot- 
hold was one of the turning points of modern history. From 1917 
to 1979 there was a continual expansion of Communist power 
throughout the world, and for a while approximately one-third of 
the Earth’s population lived under Communist rule. 

Although primarily important as an active political leader, Le-— 

nin has also exerted considerable influence through his writings. 
Lenin's ideas were not really in contradiction to those of Marx, 
but they did represent a marked change in emphasis. Lenin was 
enormously interested in the tactics of revolution, and he consid- 
ered himself an expert at them. He constantly stressed the need 
for violence: “Not a single problem of the class struggle has ever 
been solved in history except by violence,” is a typical quotation. 
Marx makes only occasional reference to the dictatorship of the 
proletariat. Lenin was almost obsessed by the topic, e.g., “The 
dictatorship of the proletariat is nothing else than power based 
upon force and limited by nothing—by no law and by absolutely 
no rule.” 

How important are Lenin's purely political ideas? In the first 
edition of this book I wrote: 

The most distinctive feature of the Soviet government has not 
been its economic policies (there are socialist governments in 
various other countries), but rather its technique for retaining 
political power indefinitely. Since Lenin’s day, not a single 
Communist government anywhere in the world, after once be- 
ing firmly established, has been overthrown. By firmly control- 
ling all institutions of power within the country—the press, 
the banks, the churches, the labor unions, etc—Communist 

Lenin 417 

governments seem to have eliminated the possibility of internal 
overthrow. There may be a weak point in their armor, but if so, 
no one has yet found it. 

That paragraph might have sounded reasonable at the time I wrote 
it, in 1977; but the events of the past few years show that I was 
completely mistaken. Far from being invulnerable, Leninist re- 
gimes have been toppling right and left. Lenin hoped—and his 
opponents feared—that by combining prison camps and _ propa- 
ganda, he had devised a system of government that would endure 
for centuries. He was wrong, and his historical importance is there- 
fore much less than I had feared. 

However, even if Lenin’s importance as a theorist has been 
overrated (his economic ideas, of course, are derived almost en- 
tirely from Karl Marx), he nevertheless has significance as a man 
of action—the practical political leader who seized power and used 
it to transform his country. But in judging his place in history, we 
must first compare the importance of his actions with those of his 
successor, Joseph Stalin. 

Lenin, after all, ruled for only five years. During those five 
years he completely destroyed the power of the Russian aristocracy, 
and he started the country on the road to socialism. But it was 
Stalin, not Lenin, who forced most Soviet farmers into collectives; 
it was Stalin, not Lenin, who virtually eliminated private business 
enterprises within the Soviet Union; and it was under Stalin, not 
Lenin, that Soviet Communism was transformed into a global force, 
with activities vigorously challenging the West in virtually every 
country on Earth. : 

Lenin, during his few years in power, was responsible for sev- 
eral million deaths, and he did establish a set of prison camps as a 
means of crushing political opposition to the Communist program. 
However, it was under Stalin that that set of prison camps (the so- 
called “Gulag Archipelago”) reached their full extent; and it was 
under Stalin that the great majority of the government purges and 
killings occurred. 

Should we nevertheless say that, since Lenin preceded Stalin 


Ca ay 



re ‘Ea 

“We stand on guard for freedom.” 

and prepared the way for him, Lenin should be considered the 
more important of the two? A case which is perhaps closely corres- 
ponding is that involving King Philip II of Macedon and his son, 
Alexander the Great. Philip was a brilliant leader whose military 
and organizational skills certainly prepared the way for Alexander 
and gave him his opportunity. However, Alexander did so much 
with that opportunity—far more than anyone had anticipated, and 
probably far more than most other men would have done—that I 
consider it appropriate to assign the larger part of the responsibility 
for what occurred to Alexander. By similar reasoning, I conclude 
that Stalin was a more influential figure than Lenin. 

But even if Lenin is not as important as Stalin (or as Marx, 
whose writings provided the theoretical basis and stimulus for the 
whole Communist movement), he is still a major figure. Not only 
did he pave the way for Stalin in the USSR; but in addition, his 
writings, his policies, and his example all had a profound influence 
on Communist movements in many other countries. 

It is sometimes claimed that the extraordinary loss of life that 
occurred in the Soviet Union was not due to the Leninist system 

Lenin 419 

itself, but was a result only of the extreme cruelty and ruthlessness 
of Stalin. This view seems incorrect to me. In the first place, mil- 
lions of people in the USSR were killed during the period of Le- 
nin’s rule, before Stalin took power. Furthermore, there have been 
leaders in various other Communist states who have engaged in 
the utmost brutality and destructiveness. A prominent example is 
Pol Pot, who ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. In that relatively 
brief period roughly two million Cambodians died—-an even 
greater proportion of the population than were killed by Stalin 
during the twenty-five years he headed the Soviet Union. Even if 
the system which Lenin established does not invariably result in 
such massacres, it certainly seems to make it relatively easy for 
such excesses to occur. Lenin may have spent his entire life in an 
attempt to eliminate oppression, but the net result of his activities 
was the destruction of individual liberties throughout a sizable 
portion of the world. 

Since it now appears that the Marxist/Leninist movement will 
not endure for many centuries (as I had feared when I wrote the 
first edition of this book), it no longer seems appropriate to include 
Lenin among the top twenty persons in this book. However, it still 
seems reasonable to rank him in the top 100. His transforming 
influence on Russia is sufficient to make him comparable in impor- 
tance to Peter the Great; and if one also takes into account his 
impact on other countries, it seems clear that Lenin should be 
ranked even higher than Peter, although well below Stalin. 





The Chinese emperor Sui Wen Ti (original name: Yang Chien) 
succeeded in reunifying China after it had been badly divided for 
hundreds of years. The political unity that he established has per- 
sisted throughout most of the intervening centuries. As a result, 
China has usually been one of the most powerful countries in the 
world. Another important result of the political unity is that the 
population of China—which comprises roughly one- fifth of the 
total world population—has suffered far less frequently from the 
horrors of war than have the inhabitants of Europe, the Middle 
East, or most other parts of the world. 

An earlier emperor, Shih Huang Ti, had unified China in 
the third century 8.c. His dynasty, the Ch’in, was destroyed soon 
after his death; however, it was succeeded fairly promptly by the 
Han dynasty, which ruled all of China from 206 B.c. to 220 a.p. 
After the Han dynasty fell, China underwent a long period of in- 
ternal disunity, roughly analogous to the Dark Ages in Europe, 
which followed the fall of the Roman Empire. 

Yang Chien was born in 541 into one of the powerful fam- 
ilies of northern China. He received his first military appoint- 
ment when he was only fourteen years old. Yang Chien was very 
capable and rose rapidly in the service of his ruler, the emperor 

Sui Wen Ti 42] 

of the northern Chou dynasty. His assistance in helping that ruler 
gain control of most of northern China did not go unrewarded, 
and in 573, Yang Chien’s daughter was married to the crown 
prince. Five years later the emperor died. The crown prince ap- 
pears to have been mentally unbalanced, and a struggle for 
power soon ensued. Yang Chien was the ultimate winner of that 
struggle, and in 58], at the age of forty, he became recognized as 
the new emperor. He was not, however, content to be the 
emperor of northern China only. After making careful prepara- 
tions, he invaded southern China in 588. The invasion was rapid- 
ly successful, and in 589, he became the ruler of all of China. 

During his reign, Sui Wen Ti built a spacious new capital 
city for the reunited empire. He also started construction of the 
Grand Canal, which connects China’s two greatest rivers: the 
Yangtze in central China and the Hwang Ho (or Yellow River) in 
the north. This canal, which was completed during his son’s 
reign, helped to unify northern and southern China. 

One of the emperor’s most important reforms was the in- 
stitution of the system of selecting government officials by means 
of civil service examinations. For many centuries, that system 
provided China with a highly capable corps of administrators by 
constantly bringing highly talented men—from all over the 
country and from all social classes—into government service. 
(The system had first been introduced during the Han dynasty, 
however, in the long interval following the fall of the Han, many 
government posts had become hereditary.) 

Sui Wen Ti also enforced the so-called “rule of avoidance”: 
the principle that provincial governors could not serve in the pro- 
vince in which they had been born. This was a precautionary 
measure, preventing favoritism and at the same time preventing 
any provincial governor from acquiring too strong a power base. 

Though capable of bold action when that was necessary, Sui 
Wen Ti was generally a cautious man. He avoided extravagance, 
and he appears to have lightened the tax burden on his subjects. 
His foreign policy was, on the whole, successful. 

Sui Wen Ti seems to have had far less self-confidence than 

422 THE 100 

most rulers or conquerors of comparable success. Though a 
powerful and successful ruler of millions of people, he seems to 
have been unusually henpecked. His able wife, although 
domineering, was of great assistance to him, both in his rise to 
power and during his reign. Sui Wen Ti died in 604, at the age of 
sixty-three. It is widely suspected that he was the victim of foul 
play by his second son (the empress’s favorite), who succeeded 

The new emperor suffered reverses in foreign policy, and 
eventually revolts against his rule broke out in China. He was 
killed in 618, and with his death the Sui dynasty came to an end. 
It was not, however, the end of Chinese unity. The Sui was 
promptly followed by the T’ang dynasty, which lasted from 618 
to 907. The T’ang emperors retained the general governmental 
structure of the Sui rulers, and under them, China remained 
united. (The T’ang dynasty is often considered to be China’s 
most glorious period, partly because of its military strength, but 
even more because of the great flowering of art and literature 
that occurred then.) 

Just how important a figure was Sui Wen Ti? To form a 
judgment on that question, one might try comparing him with 
the celebrated European monarch Charlemagne. There is a 
distinct parallel between the careers of the two men: roughly 
three centuries after the fall of Rome, Charlemagne succeeded in 
reuniting a large part of western Europe; similarly, about three 
and one-half centuries after the fall of the Han dynasty, Sui Wen 
Ti succeeded in reuniting China. Charlemagne, of course, is far 
more famous in the West; however, it appears that Sui Wen Ti 
was the more influential of the two rulers. In the first place, he 
succeeded in reuniting all of China, whereas many significant 
areas of western Europe (such as England, Spain, and southern 
Italy) were never conquered by Charlemagne. In the second 
place, the reunification accomplished by Sui Wen Ti endured, 
whereas Charlemagne’s empire was soon divided and never 
regained its unity. 

In the third place, the cultural achievements of the T’ang 

Sui Wen Ti 423 

dynasty resulted, at least in part, from the economic prosperity 
which followed the political unification of China. By contrast, 
the short-lived Carolingian Renaissance ended with the death of 
Charlemagne and the dissolution of his empire. Finally, Sui’s in- 
stitution of the civil service examinations had profound long- 
term effects. For all these reasons—even taking into account that 
on the whole Europe has played a more important role in world 
history than China has—Sui Wen Ti had more effect on history 
than Charlemagne did. Indeed, few monarchs, either in China 
or in Europe, have had as enduring an impact as did Sui Wen Ti. 




SS tay KA 1460-1524 

Vasco da Gama was the Portuguese explorer who discovered the 
direct sea route from Europe to India by sailing around Africa. 

The Portuguese had been searching for such a route since 
the days of Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460). In 1488, a 
Portuguese expedition headed by Bartolomeu Dias had reached 
and rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa 
and returned to Portugal. With this achievement, the Portuguese 
king understood that the long quest to find a sea route to the In- 
dies was now near success. However, there were various delays, 
and it was not until 1497 that the expedition to the Indies actual- 
ly set forth. To head the expedition, the king selected Vasco da 
Gama, a minor aristocrat who had been born in about 1460, in 
Sines, Portugal. 

Da Gama set out on July 8, 1497, with four ships under his 
command and a total crew of 170 men, including interpreters 
who could speak Arabic. The expedition first proceeded to the 
Cape Verde Islands. Then, rather than following the coastline of 
Africa as Dias had done, da Gama sailed almost due south, far 
out into the Atlantic Ocean. He proceeded south for a long way, 
and then turned east to reach the Cape of Good Hope. It was a 
well-chosen route, faster than following the coast down, but it 
required much more daring and navigational skill. Because of the 
route he had chosen, da Gama’s ships were out of sight of land 
for an astonishing ninety-three days—more than two and one- 
half times as long as Columbus’s ships had been! 

Vasco da Gama 425 

Da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope on November 
22, and then sailed up the east coast of Africa. On the way north, 
he stopped at a few cities under Moslem control, including Mom- 
basa and Malindi in present-day Kenya. In Malindi, he picked 
up an Indian pilot who guided him on a twenty-three-day run 
across the Arabian Sea to India. On May 20, 1498, about ten 
months after his departure from Portugal, da Gama arrived at 
Calicut, the most important trade center of southern India. The 
Hindu ruler of Calicut, the Zamorin, at first welcomed da 
Gama. However, the Zamorin was soon disappointed by the 
cheap goods that da Gama offered him as gifts. Combined with 
the hostility of the Moslem merchants who had previously 
dominated the trade routes of the Indian Ocean, this prevented 
da Gama from concluding a trade treaty with the Zamorin. Still, 
when he left Calicut in August, da Gama had a fine cargo of 
spices on board to show to his sovereign, as well as a number of 

The trip back home proved more difficult than the voyage 
out. It took about three months to get across the Arabian Sea, 
and many of the crew died of scurvy. Ultimately, only two ships 
got back safely: the first reached Portugal on July 10, 1499; da 
Gama’s own ship arrived two months later. Only fifty-five 
members of the crew—less than one third of those who started 
out—had survived the round-trip voyage. Nevertheless, when da 
Gama returned to Lisbon, on September 9, 1499, both he and 
the king correctly understood that his two-year voyage had been 
a tremendous success. 

Six months later, the Portuguese king dispatched a follow- 
up expedition under the command of Pedro Alvares Cabral. 
Cabral duly reached India, discovering Brazil en route (though 
some historians believe that other Portuguese explorers may have 
discovered it much earlier), and returned to Portugal with a 
large quantity of spices. But some of Cabral’s men had been 
killed in Calicut, so in 1502, Vasco da Gama was sent back there 
on a punitive mission, heading a fleet of twenty ships. 

Da Gama’s behavior on this expedition was utterly ruthless. 


426 THE 100 

Off the Indian Coast, he seized a passing Arab ship, and after 
removing its cargo but not its passengers, burnt the ship at sea. 
All of those on board—several hundred people, including many 
women and children— perished. When he arrived at Calicut, da 
Gama imperiously demanded that the Zamorin banish all 
Moslems from the port. When the Zamorin hesitated, da Gama 
seized, killed, and dismembered thirty-eight Hindu fishermen, 
and then bombarded the port. Enraged but helpless, the 
Zamorin granted da Gama’s demands. On his way back home, 
da Gama established some Portuguese colonies in East Africa. 

For those deeds, he was richly rewarded by the King of Por- 
tugal, who awarded him titles and granted him estates, pensions, 
and other financial rewards. Da Gama did not return to India 
until 1524, when a new Portuguese king appointed him viceroy. 
A few months after his arrival in India, he fell ill, and he died 
there in December 1524. He was eventually reburied near 
Lisbon. Da Gama was married and had seven children. 

The basic significance of Vasco da Gama’s voyage is that he 
_ opened a direct sea route from Europe to India and the Far East, 
the effect of which was felt by many countries. 

In the short run, the greatest impact was upon Portugal. 
Through control of the new trade route to the East, this formerly 
poor country on the outskirts of the civilized world soon became 
one of the richest countries in Europe. The Portuguese rapidly 
built up a substantial colonial empire around the Indian Ocean. 
They had outposts in India, in Indonesia, on Madagascar, on the 
east coast of Africa, and elsewhere. This, of course, was in addi- 
tion to their holdings in Brazil and to their colonial empire in 
west Africa, which they had begun to develop even before da 
Gama’s voyages. The Portuguese succeeded in retaining several 
of these colonies until the last half of the twentieth century. 

Vasco da Gama’s opening of a new trade route to India was 
a severe setback to the Moslem traders that had formerly con- 
trolled the trade routes of the Indian Ocean. Those traders were 
soon thoroughly defeated and displaced by the Portuguese. 
Furthermore, the overland trade routes from India into Europe 

Vasco da Gama 427 

fell into disuse, because the Portuguese sea route around Africa 
was cheaper. This was injurious both to the Ottoman Turks and 
to the Italian trading cities (such as Venice) that had formerly 
controlled the eastern trade. For the rest of Europe, however, 
this meant that goods from the Far East were a good deal 
cheaper than they had been previously. 

Ultimately, however, the greatest impact of Vasco da 
Gama’s voyage was not upon Europe or the Middle East, but 
rather upon India and Southeast Asia. Before 1498, India had 
been isolated from Europe. Indeed, through most of history In- 
dia had been a fairly self-contained unit, with the only important 
foreign influences coming from the northwest. Da Gama’s voy- 
age, however, brought India into direct contact with European 

Vasco da Gama’s ship rounds the Cape of Good Hope. 

The voyages of 
Vasco da Gama 
and Columbus. 



Azores -% 

Canary Is.¢g 

aot aoe 

ko -—=—= = {<= 

ag rome Cape , 
‘ Verde + 


Cape of Good Hope 

First voyage of Da Gama to India 

See First voyage of Columbus 


430 THE 100 

civilization via the sea routes. The influence and power of the 
Europeans grew steadily stronger in India, until by the last half 
of the nineteenth century, the entire subcontinent was subject to 
the British crown. (It might be remarked that this was the only 
time in history that all of India was united under a single ruler.) 
As for Indonesia, it fell first under European influence, and then 
under complete European control. Only in the mid-twentieth 
century did these areas regain autonomy. 

The obvious person with whom to compare Vasco da Gama 
is Christopher Columbus. In some ways, the comparison favors 
da Gama. His voyage, for example, was a far more impressive 
achievement. It was very much longer than Columbus’s in both 
distance and duration—more than three times as long, in fact! It 
required far better nagivation. (Columbus, no matter how far off 
course he went, could hardly have missed the New World, 
whereas da Gama could easily have missed the Cape of Good 
Hope and gotten lost in the Indian Ocean.) Furthermore, unlike 
Columbus, da Gama succeeded in reaching his original destina- 

It might be argued, of course, that Vasco da Gama did not 
discover a new world, but merely made contact between the 
Europeans and a region already populated. The same, however, 
is true of Columbus. 

Columbus’s voyages ultimately had a tremendous impact 
upon the civilizations pre-existing in the western hemisphere; da 
Gama’s voyage ultimately resulted in a transformation of the 
civilizations of India and Indonesia. In judging the relative im- 
portance of Columbus and da Gama, it should be remembered 
that, although North and South America are each enormously 
larger in area than India, India has a larger population than all 
the countries in the Western Hemisphere combined! 

Nevertheless, it seems plain that Columbus was vastly more 
influential than Vasco da Gama. In the first place, the voyage 
around Africa to India was not prompted by any suggestion of 
Vasco da Gama’s. The Portuguese king had decided to send such 
an expedition long before he chose Vasco da Gama to head it. 

Vasco da Gama 43] 

Columbus’s expedition, however, had been instigated by Col- 
umbus himself, and it was his persuasiveness that induced Queen 
Isabella to finance it. Had it not been for Columbus, the New 
World (though it surely would have been discovered eventually) 
might have been discovered substantially later, and by a dif- 
ferent European country. On the other hand, had Vasco da 
Gama not lived, the Portuguese king would simply have selected 
another man to head the expedition. Even if that man was in- 
competent and failed, the Portuguese would surely not have 
abandoned their long effort to find a direct route to India when it 
seemed so near success. Moreover, given the existing set of Por- 
tuguese bases along the west coast of Africa, there was little 
chance that another European nation would have been able to 
reach India first. 

In the second place, European influence on India and the 
Far East was not nearly as overwhelming as European influence 
on the Western Hemisphere. The civilization of India was ‘even- 
tually vastly modified by its contact with the West. However, 
within a few decades of Columbus’s voyage the major civiliza- 
tions of the New World were virtually destroyed. Nor is there any 
parallel in India to the creation of the United States of America 
in the Western Hemisphere. 

Just as one cannot credit (or blame) Christopher Columbus 
for all the events that have since occurred in the Western 
Hemisphere, so one cannot credit da Gama with all the results of 
direct European contact with the East. Vasco da Gama forms 
but one link in a long chain that includes: Henry the Navigator; a 
whole set of Portuguese captains who explored the west coast of 
Africa; Bartolomeu Dias; da Gama himself; his immediate suc- 
cessors (such as Francisco de Almeida and Alfonso de Albuquer- 
que); and many other men. I feel that Vasco da Gama was easily 
the most important single link in that chain; however, he does 
not stand out nearly as much as does Columbus in the corre- 
sponding chain of persons involved in the Europeanization of the 
Western Hemisphere, and it is principally for that reason that he 
has been ranked so far below Columbus. 



c.590 B.c.-529 Buc. 

Cyrus the Great was the founder of the Persian Empire. Starting 
as a subordinate ruler in southwest Iran, he overthrew—by a 
remarkable series of victories—three great empires (those of the 
Medes, Lydians, and Babylonians), and united most of the an- 
cient Middle East into a single state stretching from India to the 
Mediterranean Sea. 

Cyrus (Kurush in the original Persian) was born about 590 
B.c., in the province of Persis (now Fars), in southwest Iran. The 
area was at that time a province in the empire of the Medes. 
Cyrus was descended from a line of local chiefs who were vassals 
of the king of the Medes. 

Later tradition created an interesting legend concerning 

Cyrus the Great 433 

Cyrus, somewhat reminiscent of the Greek legend of King 
Oedipus. According to this legend, Cyrus was the grandson of 
Astyages, king of the Medes. Before Cyrus’s birth, Astyages had a 
dream that his grandson would someday overthrow him. The 
king ordered that the infant be killed promptly after his birth. 
However, the official entrusted with the job of killing the infant 
had no heart for such a bloody deed, and instead handed him 
over to a shepherd and his wife with instructions that they put 
the child to death. But they, too, were unwilling to kill the boy, 
and instead reared him as their own. Ultimately, when the child 
grew up, he indeed caused the king’s downfall. 

This story (the details may be found in Herodotus) seems ob- 
viously fictitious, and virtually nothing is known of Cyrus’s early 
years. We do know that some time about 558 s.c., Cyrus suc- 
ceeded his father, Cambyses I, as king of the Persians, which 
made him a vassal of the Median king. About 553 8.c, however, 
Cyrus rebelled against his overlord, and after a war lasting for 
three years, succeeded in overthrowing him. 

The Medes and the Persians were very closely related, both 
in origins and in language. Since Cyrus retained most of the laws 
of the Medes and much of their administrative procedure as well, 
his victory over the Medes was more like a change of dynasty 
than a foreign conquest. 

Cyrus, though, soon showed that he desired foreign con- 
quest also. His first target was the Lydian Empire in Asia Minor, 
ruled by King Croesus, a man of legendary wealth. Cyrus’s iron 
proved more than a match for Croesus’s gold, and by 546 B.c., 
Cyrus had conquered the Lydian Empire and made Croesus his 

Cyrus then turned his attention to the east, and in a series of 
campaigns, subdued all of eastern Iran and incorporated it into 
his empire. By 540 s.c., the Persian Empire extended as far east 
as the Indus river in India and the Jaxartes (modern-day Syr 
Darya) in Central Asia. 

With his rear protected, Cyrus could now concentrate on 
the richest prize of all, the wealthy Babylonian Empire, centered 

¥ p 


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° Ld 
* . . 
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PO Lydian Empire (about 560 B.C. 
eae) Empire of the Medes ‘ 

Cyrus the Great and 
the Persian Empire. 


ea Babylonian Empire | 


Rs, Added to Persian Empire under Cambyses and Darius | 


436 THE 100 

in Mesopotamia but ruling the entire Fertile Crescent of the an- 
cient Middle East. Unlike Cyrus, the Babylonian ruler Naboni- 
dus was not popular with his subjects. When Cyrus’s armies ad- 
vanced, the Babylonian troops had no taste for the pointless 
struggle, and in 539 B.c., Babylon surrendered to Cyrus without 
a fight. As the Babylonian Empire had included Syria and Pale- 
stine, those regions, too, were added to the domains under 
Cyrus’s control. 

Cyrus spent the next few years consolidating his rule and 
reorganizing the enormous empire that he had won. Then he led 
an army to the northeast to conquer the Massagetae, who were 
nomadic tribes living in Central Asia, east of the Caspian Sea. 
The Persians were victorious in an early skirmish. But in a second 
battle, fought in 529 p.c., they were defeated, and Cyrus—ruler 
of the greatest empire the world had yet seen—waas slain. 

Cyrus was succeeded by his son, Cambyses II. Cambyses 
defeated the Massagetae in a return engagement, recovered his 
father’s body, and buried it at Pasargadae, the old Persian 
capital. Cambyses then went on to conquer Egypt, thus uniting 
the entire ancient Middle East into a single empire. 

Cyrus was clearly a leader of immense military ability. But 
that was only one facet of the man. More distinctive, perhaps, 
was the benign character of his rule. He was exceptionally 
tolerant of local religions and local customs, and he was 
disinclined to the extreme brutality and cruelty which 
characterized so many other conquerors. The Babylonians, for 
instance, and even more notably the Assyrians, had massacred 
many thousands and had exiled whole peoples whose rebellion 
they feared. For example, when the Babylonians had conquered 
Judea in 586 B.c., they had deported much of the population to 
Babylon. But fifty years later, after Cyrus had conquered 
Babylonia, he gave the Jews permission to return to their 
homeland. Were it not for Cyrus, therefore, it seems at least 
possible that the Jewish people would have died out as a separate 
group in the fifth century B.c. Cyrus’s decision in this matter may 
have had political motivations; nevertheless, there seems little 

Cyrus the Great 437 

doubt that he was a remarkably humane ruler for his time. Even 
the Greeks, who for a long period considered the Persian Empire 
to be the chief threat to their own independence, never ceased to 
regard Cyrus as a thoroughly admirable ruler. 

So well had Cyrus done his work, that even after his death 
the Persian Empire continued to expand. It endured, in fact, for 
about two hundred years, until its conquest by Alexander the 
Great. For most of those two centuries, the lands ruled by Persia 
enjoyed internal peace and prosperity. 

Alexander’s conquest did not mark the permanent end of the 
Persian Empire. After Alexander’s death, one of his generals, 
Seleucus I Nicator, gained control of Syria, Mesopotamia, and 
Iran, thereby establishing the Seleucid Empire. However, 
foreign control over Iran did not last very long. In the middle of 
the third century B.c., there was a rebellion against Seleucid 
rule, led by Arsaces I, who claimed to be descended from the 
Achaemenids (the dynasty of Cyrus). The kingdom founded by 
Arsaces— known as the Parthian Empire—eventually gained 
control over Iran and Mesopotamia. In 224 a.p., the Arsacid 
rulers were replaced by a new Persian dynasty, the Sassanids, 
who likewise claimed descent from the Achaemenids, and whose 
empire endured for over four centuries. 

The career of Cyrus the Great represents one of the major 
turning points in world history. Civilization had first arisen in 
Sumeria, somewhat before 3000 s.c. For over twenty-five cen- 
turies, the Sumerians and the various Semitic peoples who suc- 
ceeded them (such as the Akkadians, the Babylonians, and the 
Assyrians) had been at the very center of civilization. For all that 
time, Mesopotamia had been the richest and most culturally ad- 
vanced region of the world (with the exception of Egypt, which 
was roughly on the same level). But Cyrus’s career—which, in- 
cidentally, marks roughly the mid-point of recorded history— 
brought that chapter of world history to an end. From then on, 
neither Mesopotamia nor Egypt was the center of the civilized 
world, either politically or culturally. 

438 THE 100 

Furthermore, the Semitic peoples—who made up the bulk 
of the population of the Fertile Crescent—were not to regain 
their independence for many centuries to come. After the Per- 
sians (an Indo-European people), were to come the Macedonians 
and the Greeks, followed by a long succession of Parthian, 
Roman, and Sassanid rulers, all of whom were Indo-Europeans. 
It was not until the Moslem conquests of the seventh century— 
almost twelve centuries after Cyrus the Great—that the Fertile 
Crescent was again controlled by Semitic peoples. 

Cyrus is significant not merely because he won a lot of bat- 
tles and conquered a lot of territory. Of greater importance is the 
fact that the empire he established permanently altered the poli- 
tical structure of the ancient world. 

The Persian Empire, despite its considerable territorial ex- 
tent and duration, did not have nearly as great an impact on 
history as did such longer-lived empires as the Roman, British, or 
Chinese empires. But in estimating Cyrus’s influence, one should 
keep in mind that what he accomplished would probably never 
have occurred without him. In 620 B.c. (a generation before 
Cyrus was born), no one would have suspected that within a cen- 
tury the entire ancient world would be under the rule of a 
previously obscure tribe from southwest Iran. Even in retrospect, 
it does not appear that the rise of the Persian Empire was one of 
those historical events which, because of preexisting social or eco- 
nomic factors, was bound to happen sooner or later. Thus, Cyrus 
was one of those rare men who have actually altered the course of 

The tomb of Cyrus the § 
Great at Pasargadae. 




Peter the Great is generally acknowledged to be the most out- 
standing of the Russian czars. The policy of westernization that 
he instituted was a major factor in the transformation of Russia 
into a great power. 

Peter was born in 1672, in Moscow, the only son of Czar 
Alexis and his second wife, Natalia Narishkina. Peter was not yet 
four years old when his father died. Since Alexis also had had 
thirteen children by his first wife, it is hardly suprising that there 
was a lengthy and sometimes violent struggle over the succession 
to the throne. On one occasion, the young Peter even had to flee 
for his life. For several years, Peter’s half-sister Sophia served as 
regent, and it was not until 1689, when she was removed from 
that office, that Peter’s position became reasonably secure. 

Russia in 1689 was a backward region, centuries behind 
western Europe in almost every way. Towns were fewer than in 
the West. The institution of serfdom was flourishing—indeed, 
the number of serfs was increasing, and their legal rights declin- 
ing. Russia had missed both the Renaissance and the Reforma- 
tion. The clergy was ignorant; literature was almost nonexistent; 
mathematics and science were ignored or despised. In contrast 
with western Europe, where Newton had recently written his 


440) THE 100 

Principia, and where literature and philosophy were flourishing, 
Russia was almost medieval. 

In 1697-98, Peter made a lengthy trip to western Europe, a 
trip which was to set the tone for the succeeding years of his 
reign. Peter took about 250 people along with him on this “grand 
embassy.” By using a pseudonym (Pyotr Mikhaylov), Peter was 
able to see many things which he could not have observed other- 
wise. In the course of this trip, Peter worked for a period as a 
ship’s carpenter with the Dutch East India Company in Holland. 
He also worked in the Royal Navy’s dockyard in England, and he 
studied gunnery in Prussia. He visited factories, schools, muse- 
ums, and arsenals, and even attended a session of Parliament in 
England. In short, he learned as much as he could about Western 
culture, science, industry, and administrative techniques. 

In 1698, Peter returned to Russia and embarked on a far- 
ranging series of reforms designed to modernize and westernize 
the Russian state. In order to encourage the introduction of 
Western technology and techniques, Peter brought many 
Western technicians into Russia. He also sent many young Rus- 
sians to study in western Europe. Throughout his reign, Peter en- 
couraged the development of industry and commerce. Under his 
rule, towns grew in size and the bourgeoisie increased in 
numbers and in influence. 

During Peter’s reign, the first gqgod-sized Russian navy was 
built. Furthermore, the army was remodeled on the Western 
style, the troops were provided with uniforms and modern 
firearms, and Western style military drilling was instituted. 
Peter also instituted many changes in the Russian civil ad- 
ministration, including the sensible reform of promoting civil 
servants on the basis of their performance in office, rather than 
their hereditary rank. 

In social matters, also, Peter encouraged westernization. He 
decreed that all beards must be cut off (though he later modified 
the decree), and men at court were ordered to dress in the 
Western style and were encouraged to take up smoking and the 

drinking of coffee. Although at the time many of his proposals 

Peter the Great 44] 

met with strenuous opposition, the long-term effect of these 
policies was that much of the Russian aristocracy eventually 
developed Western manners and culture. 

Not surprisingly, Peter considered the Russian Orthodox 
Church to be a backward and reactionary force. Peter succeeded 
in partly reorganizing the Orthodox Church and in gaining con- 
siderable control over it. Peter instituted secular schools in Russia 
and encouraged the development of science. He also introduced 
the Julian calendar and modernized the Russian alphabet. Dur- 
ing his reign, the first newspaper was established in Russia. 

In addition to all these domestic reforms, Peter engaged in a 
foreign policy that had important consequences for the future. 
Under him, Russia was involved in wars both with Turkey in the 
south and with Sweden in the north. Against Turkey he initially 
had some success, conquering the port of Azov in 1696, and 
thereby providing Russia with some access to the Black Sea. 
Later in his reign, however, the Turks got the better of the 
fighting, and in 1711 he was forced to cede Azov back to Turkey. 

In the war against Sweden, the sequence of events was 
almost exactly reversed, with the Russians defeated at the begin- 
ning and victorious at the end. In 1700, Russia joined with Den- 
mark and Saxony in a war against Sweden, which at that time 
was a major military power. (Poland, too, later declared war on 
Sweden.) At the battle of Narva, in 1700, the Russian forces were 
badly defeated. Following this battle, the Swedish king turned 
his attention to his other enemies. Meanwhile, Peter rebuilt the 
Russian army. Eventually, the battle between Sweden and 
Russia was resumed, and at Poltava, in the year 1709, the 
Swedish army was decisively defeated. 

The Russian territorial gains from the war included 
(roughly) Estonia and Latvia, plus a substantial area near 
Finland. Although the area conquered was not extremely large, 
it was important because it gave Russia an outlet on the Baltic 
Sea, and therefore a “window to Europe.” On the banks of the 
Neva River, on some of the land conquered from Sweden, Peter 
founded a new city, St. Petersburg (today known as Leningrad). 

442 THE 100 

In 1712, he moved his capital there from Moscow. Thereafter, 
St. Petersburg became the major point of contact between Russia 
and western Europe. 

Peter’s various domestic policies and foreign wars were, of 
course, very costly, and inevitably led to the imposition of addi- 
tional taxes. Both the high taxes and the reforms themselves 
angered many Russians, and there were several revolts, all of 
which Peter crushed ruthlessly. Though he had many opponents 
in his own day, today both Russian and Western historians agree 
that Peter was the greatest of the Russian czars. 

In his person, Peter made an imposing appearance. He was 
tall (at least 6’ 6”), strong, good-looking, and energetic. He was 
full of lusty and boisterous high spirits, and was mirthful, 
although his humor was often rather crude. He sometimes drank 
heavily, and he had a violent streak in him. In addition to his 
political and military skills, Peter had studied carpentry, print- 
ing, navigation, and shipbuilding. An unusual monarch! 

Peter was married twice. He married his first wife, Eudox- 
ia, when he was seventeen. They lived together for only a week, 
and when he was twenty-six, he had her sent to a convent. In 

At the Battle of Poltava, the Russian forces under 
Peter the Great decisively defeated the Swedish. 

. z 
ote Ke af ne 


ay ae at te 
a is 


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Peter the Great 443 

1712, he divorced her and married another woman. His second 
wife, Catherine, was a Lithuanian girl of humble birth. Peter 
had a son, Alexis, by his first wife; however, Peter and his son 
were on bad terms. In 1718, Alexis was arrested on charges of 
conspiracy against Peter. He was arrested, tortured, and died in 
jail. Peter himself died in St. Pecersburg in early 1725, at the age 
of fifty-two. He was succeeded by his widow, Catherine (not to 
be confused with Catherine the Great). 

Peter the Great is on this list because of the important role 
he played in the westernization and modernization of Russia. 
However, since the rulers of many other countries have pursued 
similar policies, one might reasonably ask why Peter has been in- 
cluded on this list and most of the others omitted. 

It is true enough that today, in the twentieth century, most 
heads of state see the importance to their nations of adopting 
Western methods, particularly in science and technology. In 
1700, however, the desirability of westernization was not ob- 
vious to most persons outside of Europe. What makes Peter so 
significant is that he was two centuries ahead of his time in 
realizing the importance of westernization, and in modernizing 
his country. Because of Peter’s foresight, Russia, which at his ac- 
cession had been a very backward country, was able to pull well 
ahead of most countries in the world. (However, because of the 
very rapid progress that western Europe made during the eigh- 
teenth and nineteenth centuries, Russia was unable to draw 
abreast of western Europe.) 

The contrast with Turkey, the other important state on the 
eastern frontiers of Europe, is particularly striking. Turkey and 
Russia were both semi-European countries. During the two cen- 
turies immediately preceding Peter’s reign, Turkey was more ad- 
vanced than Russia militarily, economically, and culturally. (For 
that matter, Turkey had been more advanced than Russia 
throughout most of history.) But there was no Turkish sultan 
around 1700 who realized the importance of rapid westerniza- 
tion and who pushed his country in that direction. Therefore, 
while Russia, from Peter’s time on, made rapid strides, Turkey 

444 THE 100 

made only slow progress. It was not until the twentieth century 
that Kemal Ataturk led Turkey in a program of rapid moderniza- 
tion. By that time, Russia was more advanced industrially and edu- 
cationally than Turkey. 

Today, of course, we take Russian predominance over Turkey 
for granted. Suppose, however, that instead of Peter the Great in 
Russia there had been, at that time, a great reforming sultan in 
Turkey. Then Turkey might well be a major power today, and prob- 
ably would control the region which instead became Soviet Central 
Asia. (The residents of that region are Moslems, and are far more 
closely related to the Turks than they are to the Russians.) 

Peter the Great was not a ruler who simply floated with the 
current, but was rather a man who was ahead of his time. His 
foresight quite possibly changed history and diverted it into a 
path it might not otherwise have followed. For these reasons, it 
seems plain to me that Peter is entitled to a place on this list. 

In deciding where to rank Peter, I have been somewhat in- 
fluenced by the comparison between him and Queen Elizabeth I 
of England. Elizabeth is much more famous, particularly in the 
West. However, I think I would find it difficult to persuade even 
the most fair-minded Russian that Elizabeth was more influen- 
tial than Peter the Great. Peter was far more innovative, far 
more original. Whereas Elizabeth mainly represented a consen- 
sus of her people’s desires, Peter pulled the Russians in a direction 
in which they had never previously contemplated going. The dif- 
ference between the rankings of the two would be even larger 
were it not for the fact that through most of the intervening cen- 
turies, England has played a far more significant role in the 
world than Russia has. 




Mao Zedong led the Communist party to power in China, and for 
the next twenty-seven years presided over a remarkable and far- 
reaching transformation of that vast nation. 

Mao was born in 1893, in the village of Shaoshan, in Hunan 
province, the son of a well-off peasant. In 1911, when Mao was an 
eighteen-year-old student, a rebellion broke out against the de- 
caying Ching dynasty, which had ruled China since the seven- 
’ teenth century. Within a few months the imperial government was 
overthrown, and China was declared a republic. Unfortunately, the 
leaders of the revolution were unable to establish a stable, unified 
governinent in China; and the revolution inaugurated a long period 
of instability and civil war—one which lasted, in fact, until 1949. 

As a young man, Mao became steadily more leftist in his politi- 
cal ideas, and by 1920 he was a confirmed Marxist. In 1921, he 


446 THE 100 

was one of the twelve original founders of the Communist party of 
China. However, his climb to the top of the party leadership was 
rather slow, and it was not until 1935 that he became the leader of 
the party. 

Meanwhile, the Communist party of China was engaged in a 
long, slow, and quite unsteady path to power. The party suffered 
major setbacks in 1927 and in 1934, but managed to survive them. 
After 1935, under Mao's leadership, the party's strength steadily 
increased. By 1947, it was ready for all-out war against the Nation- 
alist government headed by Chiang Kai-shek. In 1949, their forces 
were victorious, and the Communists gained complete control of 
the Chinese mainland. 

The China that Mao, as head of the party, now came to govern 
had been torn by war for the better part of thirty-eight years. China 
was a poverty-stricken, underdeveloped country, whose teeming, 
tradition-bound millions were mainly illiterate peasants. Mao him- 
self was fifty-six years old, and it appeared that the bulk of his 
career was behind him. 

In fact, however, the period of Mao's greatest influence was 
just beginning; and by the time of his death, in 1976, Mao's policies 
had transformed China. One aspect of that transformation was a 
general modernization of the country. In particular, there was a 
rapid industrialization, combined with great improvements in pub- 
lic health and education. These changes, though obviously very 
important, are of a sort that occurred in quite a few other countries 
during the same period, and they alone would not be sufficient to 
justify Mao's place on this list. 

A second accomplishment of Mao’s government was the trans- 
formation of China's economic system from capitalism to socialism. 
Just a few years after Mao died, however, his successor (Deng 
Xiaoping) started to reintroduce various aspects of a free-market 
economy into China. We cannot yet be sure just how far this 
process will go; but it now seems likely that within five or ten years 
China will abandon socialism and will become a capitalist nation 
again. The economic policies of Mao therefore seem far less im- 
portant than they once did. 

Mao had originally believed that the industrial workers of the 

Mao Zedong 447 

cities would provide the strongest base of support for the Commu- 
nist party, an idea which was in accordance with Marx's own think- 
ing. However, about 1925, Mao came to the conclusion that, at 
least in China, the partys main support would come from the 
peasantry. He acted accordingly, and, during the long power strug- 
gle with the Nationalists, Mao's power base was always in the coun- 
tryside. This idea was carried over during his years as head of state. 
For example, whereas Stalin, in Russia, usually stressed industrial 
development, Mao generally paid more attention to agricultural 
and rural development. Nevertheless, China’s industrial produc- 
tion increased markedly under Mao's leadership. 

Politically, of course, Mao installed a thoroughly totalitarian 
system. At least 20 million of his countrymen—quite possibly 30 
million or more—met their deaths at the hands of Mao's regime, 
making his reign perhaps the bloodiest in all human history. (Only 
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan can challenge Mao for this dubi- 
ous “honor.”) There was some liberalization after Mao died; but 
attempts to convert China into a democracy have been firmly re- 
pressed by Deng Xiaoping, sometimes—as in the June 1989 massa- 
cre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing—quite savagely. 

Of course, it was not Mao Zedong alone who determined the 
policies of the Communist government. He never exercised the 
sort of one-man control that Stalin did in the Soviet Union. Never- 
theless, it is clear that Mao was by far the most important figure 
in the Chinese government from 1949 until his death in 1976. 

One project for which he seems to bear chief responsibility 
was the “Great Leap Forward” of the late 1950s. Many observors 
think that that project, which included an emphasis on small-scale, 
labor-intensive production methods, which could be carried out on 
the rural communes, was a failure. (In any event, it was eventually 
abandoned.) Another project which Mao supported, over the oppo- 
sition of various other Chinese leaders, was the “Great Proletarian 
Cultural Revolution” of the late 1960s. This was a major upheaval— 
in some senses almost a civil war between Mao and his supporters 
on the one hand, and the entrenched Communist party bureauc- 
racy on the other. 

It is interesting to note that Mao was already in his mid-sixties 


er elk ills eS 

US ds 
yt @ les AN 

Chinese citizens celebrate the 18th anniversary of Mao’s 
takeover of the mainland. 

when the “Great Leap Forward” began, was well past seventy when 
the Cultural Revolution was instituted, and was almost eighty 
when, in a dramatic change of policy, he commenced a rapproche- 
ment with the United States. 

It is always difficult to assess the long-term influence of a 
recent political figure. In the first edition of this book I gave Mao 
a very high ranking because I thought that the Communist system 
which he had established in China was likely to endure for a long 
time. That no longer seems probable. China appears to be aban- 
doning socialism; and the dictatorial political system which Mao 
bequeathed China, though still in place, no longer seems secure. 

While Mao was alive, it appeared that he might turn out to 

-be as important a figure as Shih Huang Ti. Both were Chinese, 

and both were architects of revolutionary changes in their country. 
However, the influence of Shih Huang Ti on China endured for 
some twenty-two centuries, while the influence of Mao seems to 
be fading rapidly. 

Mao Zedong 449 

It seems more appropriate to compare Mao with Lenin, who 
also lived in the twentieth century. Just as Mao was the leader 
who established Marxism in China, so Lenin was the one who 
established it in Russia. At first sight, Mao seems the more im- 
portant of the two: After all, China has more than three times the 
population of the Soviet Union. But Lenin preceded Mao, set an 
example for Mao, and influenced Mao's thinking. Furthermore, 
by establishing the world’s first Communist state, Lenin had an 
enormous worldwide influence, far more influence outside his own 
country than Mao did. Taking that into consideration, it seems that 
Mao should be ranked somewhat below Lenin. 

iy Chairman Mao 
vi. ~ “A participates in Chinese 
scholastic celebrations. 




Though for years he was a leading English politician, and though 
he devoted the majority of his time and energy to furthering his 
political career, Francis Bacon has been included in this book 
solely because of his philosophical writings. In those writings, he 
was the herald of the new age of science: the first great philoso- 
pher to realize that science and technology could transform the 
world, and an effective advocate of scientific investigation. 

Bacon was born in London, in 1561, the younger son of a 
high government official under Queen Elizabeth. When he was 
twelve years old, he entered Trinity College in Cambridge; 
however, after three years he left without receiving a degree. 
Starting at sixteen, he served for a while on the staff of the British 
ambassador in Paris. But when Bacon was only eighteen, his 
father died suddenly, leaving him with rather little money. He 
therefore studied law, and at age twenty-one he was admitted to 
the bar. 

Francis Bacon 451 

His political career started soon after that. When he was 
twenty-three, he was elected to the House of Commons. 
However, although he had highly-placed relatives and friends, 
and despite his obvious brilliance, Queen Elizabeth steadily 
refused to appoint him to any major or lucrative position. One 
reason for this was his courageous opposition in Parliament to a 
certain tax bill which the queen strongly supported. Since Bacon 
lived extravagantly and was constantly in debt (once he was ac- 
tually arrested for debt), he could ill afford such independent 

Bacon became a friend and advisor of the Earl of Essex, a 
popular and politically ambitious young aristocrat. In turn, 
Essex became a friend and generous benefactor of Bacon. 
However, when Essex’s overweening ambition led him to plan a 
coup against Queen Elizabeth, Bacon warned him that he would 
put loyalty to his Queen first. Essex tried his coup anyway; it fail- 
ed, and Bacon played an active role in the earl’s prosecution for 
treason. Essex was beheaded, and the entire affair left many per- 
sons with adverse feelings toward Bacon. 

Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, and Bacon became an ad- 
viser to her successor, King James I. Although James did not 
always take his advice, he did appreciate Bacon, and during 
James’s reign, Bacon advanced steadily in the government. In 
1607, Bacon became solicitor general; in 1613, he became at- 
torney general; and in 1618,he was appointed Lord Chancellor of 
England, a position roughly equivalent in importance to that of 
the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the United States. That 
same year, he was appointed a baron; and, in 1621, he was ap- 
pointed a viscount. , 

But then disaster struck. As a judge, Bacon had accepted 
“gifts” from litigants before him. Though that was a rather com- 
mon practice, it was plainly illegal. His political opponents in 
Parliament eagerly seized upon the opportunity to remove him 
from power. Bacon confessed and was sentenced to imprison- 
ment in the Tower of London and a large fine. Also, he was per- 
manently barred from public office. The king soon released 

452 THE 100 

Bacon from jail and remitted his fine, but Bacon’s political career 
was ended. 

Now, one can recall quite a few instances of high-ranking 
politicians who have been caught taking bribes, or otherwise 
violating the public trust. Frequently, when such persons are 
caught, they whine and defend themselves by asserting that 
everybody else is cheating also. If taken seriously, this defense 
would seem to mean that no crooked politician should be pun- 
ished unless every other crooked politician is punished first. 
Bacon’s comment on his conviction was somewhat different: “I 
was the justest judge that was in England these 50 years; but it 
was the justest censure in Parliament that was these 200 years.” 

Such an active and crowded political career would not seem 
to leave much time for anything else. Still, Bacon’s lasting fame, 
and his place on this list, are due to his philosophical writings 
rather than to his political activities. His first important work 
was his Essays, which first appeared in 1597 and were gradually 
enlarged. The Essays, which are written in a pithy and brilliant 
style, contain a wealth of penetrating observations, not merely 
on political matters but on many personal matters as well. Some 
characteristic remarks are: 

Young men are fitter to invent than to judge, fitter for ex- 
ecution than for counsel, and fitter for new projects than for 
settled business; ...Men of age object too much, consult too 
long, adventure too litile.... Certainly it is good to com- 
pound employments of both, ...because the virtues of either 
age may correct the defects of both.... 


He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to 

(Bacon himself was married, but had no children.) 

Francis Bacon 453 

But Bacon’s most important writings concern the philosophy 
of science. He had planned a great work, the Instauratio Magna 
(or Great Renewal), in six parts. The first part was intended to 
review the present state of our knowledge; the second part was to 
describe a new method of scientific inquiry; a third was to 
include a collection of empirical data; a fourth was to contain il- 
lustrations of his new scientific method at work; the fifth was to 
present some provisional conclusions; and the last part was to be 
a synthesis of the knowledge gained from his new method. Not 
surprisingly, this grandiose scheme— perhaps the most ambitious 
undertaking since Aristotle—was never completed. However, 
The Advancement of Learning (1605) and the Novum organum 
(1620) can be considered the first two parts of his great work. 

The Novum organum (or New Instrument) is perhaps 
Bacon’s most important book. The book is basically a plea for the 
adoption of the empirical method of inquiry. The practice of 
relying entirely upon the deductive logic of Aristotle was stultify- 
ing, and a new method of inquiry, the inductive method, was re- 
quired. Knowledge is not something we start with and deduce 
conclusions from; rather it is something we arrive at. To under- 
stand the world, one must first observe it. First collect the facts, 
Bacon said, then draw conclusions from these facts by means of 
inductive reasoning. Although scientists have not followed 
Bacon’s inductive method in every detail, the general idea he 
expressed—the crucial importance of observation and 
experimentation—form the heart of the method used by scien- 
tists ever since. 

Bacon’s last book was The New Atlantis, an account of a 
utopian commonwealth situated on a fictional island in the 
Pacific. Although the setting is reminiscent of Sir Thomas More’s 
Utopia, the whole point of Bacon’s book is different. In Bacon’s 
book, the prosperity and welfare of his ideal commonwealth de- 
pend upon and result directly from a concentration on scientific 
research. By implication, of course, Bacon was telling his readers 
that intelligent application of scientific research could make the 
people of Europe as prosperous and happy as those living on his 
mythical island. 

454 THE 100 

One might fairly say that Francis Bacon was the first truly 
modern philosopher. His overall outlook was secular, rather than 
religious (though he firmly believed in God). He was rational 
rather than superstitious; an empiricist rather than a logic-chop- 
ping scholastic. In politics, he was a realist rather than a theoreti- 
cian. And along with his classical learning and great literary 
skill, he was sympathetically attuned toward science and 

Though a loyal Englishman, Bacon had a vision which went 
far beyond his own country. He distinguishes three kinds of am- 

The first is of those who desire to extend their own power in 
their native country; which kind is vulgar and degenerate. 
The second is of those who labor to extend the power of their 
country and its dominion among men; this certainly has 
more dignity, though not less covetousness. But if a man 
endeavor to establish and extend the power and dominion of 
the human race itself over the universe, his 
without doubt both a more wholesome thing and a nobler 
than the other two. 

Though Bacon was the apostle of science, he was not a 
scientist himself, nor did he keep abreast of the advances being 
made by his contemporaries. He ignored Napier (who had 
recently invented logarithms) and Kepler, and even his fellow 
Englishman, William Harvey. Bacon correctly suggested that 
heat was a form of motion—an important scientific idea; but in 
astronomy, he refused to accept the ideas of Copernicus. It 
should be remembered, though, that Bacon was not attempting 
to present a complete and correct set of scientific laws. Instead, 
he was trying to present a survey of what needed to be learned. 
His scientific guesses were only intended to serve as a starting 
point for further discussion, not as the final answer. 

Francis Bacon was not the first person to recognize the 
usefulness of inductive reasoning; nor was he the first to under- 
stand the possible benefits which science could bring to society. 
But no man before him had publicized those ideas so widely and 

Francis Bacon 455 

so enthusiastically. Furthermore, partly because Bacon was such 
a good writer, and partly because of his fame as a leading politi- 
cian, Bacon’s attitudes toward science actually had a great deal 
of influence. When the Royal Society of London was founded, in 
1662, to promote scientific knowledge, the founders named 
Bacon as their inspiration. And, when the great Encyclopedie 
was written during the French Enlightenment, major con- 
tributors, such as Diderot and d’Alembert, credited Francis 
Bacon with the inspiration for their work. If the Novum 
organum and The New Atlantis are less read today than they 
once were, it is because their messages have become so widely ac- 

“... those that want 
friends to open them- 
selves unto are cannibals 
of their own hearts;...” 





This famous American industrialist was, more than any other single 
person, responsible for the introduction of mass production tech- 
niques into modern industry. By so doing, he vastly increased the 
standard of living throughout his nation and, ultimately, the whole 

Ford, who was born near Dearborn, Michigan, never attended 
high school. After finishing grammar school, he worked as a ma- 
chinists apprentice in Detroit, then as a repairman, then as an 
engineer. He was still a young man when, in 1885, Karl Benz and 
Gottlieb Daimler (working independently) invented their automo- 
biles and started to market them. 

Henry Ford 457 

Ford quickly became interested in these “horseless carriages,” 
and by 1896 he had constructed an automobile of his own design. 
In spite of his talents, however, his first two business ventures 
were unsuccessful, and had Ford died at forty he would have been 
deemed a failure. 

But Ford was not easily discouraged. In 1903 he tried again, 
and it was through this third venture, the Ford Motor Company, 
that he achieved wealth, fame, and lasting importance. The com- 
pany's rapid success was due in large part to Ford’s basic concept 
which, as stated in an early advertisement, was 

... to construct and market an automobile specially de- 
signed for everyday wear and tear—business, professional and 
family use; .. . a machine which will be admired by man, 
woman, and child alike for its compactness, its simplicity, its 
safety, its all-around convenience, and—last but not least—its 
exceedingly reasonable price, which places it within the reach 
of many thousands who could not think of paying the compara- 
tively fabulous prices asked for most machines. 

His earliest models, though fairly good, did not quite achieve those 
lofty goals. But his famous Model T, introduced in 1908, came 
pretty close. It was surely the most celebrated car ever produced; 
and eventually more than 15 million of them were sold. 

Early on, Ford realized that in order to sell his cars at a low 
price he would have to make his production costs very low. To 
accomplish this, he introduced a set of very efficient production 
techniques into his plants. These included (a) completely inter- 
changeable parts; (b) an extreme degree of division of labor; and 
(c) the assembly line. These were all designed to increase the effi- 
ciency of the individual worker. 

It was crucial, Ford believed, not to waste the worker's time 
by forcing him to fetch the materials and parts he needed, or even 
to lift them off the floor before he could start work on them. In- 
stead, Ford arranged to bring the work to the worker by means of 
conveyor belts, slides, or overhead trolleys. The items were deliv- 


ered at waist level, where the worker could perform his task most 
quickly. Production methods should be analyzed carefully, in a 
constant attempt to find better, more efficient techniques. Complex 
tasks should be broken down into simple ones, so that they can be 
carried out by unskilled workers (some of whom might be of low 
intelligence, uneducated, or handicapped), and without long pe- 
riods of training. 

None of these ideas were original with Ford. Eli Whitney had 
utilized interchangeable parts more than a century before; the 
well-known efficiency expert, Frederick Winslow Taylor, had advo- 
cated all of those ideas in his writings; and several smaller firms 
had already used assembly lines in their operations. But Ford was 
the first major manufacturer to apply these ideas wholeheartedly. 

Henry Ford 459 

The results were astounding: In 1908, the cheapest Model T 
sold for $825. By 1913, the price was down to only $500. In 1916, 
it was reduced to $360. Finally, in 1926, the retail price hit a rock- 
bottom $290. As the price came down, sales zoomed. The U.S. 
became a “nation on wheels,” and Ford became the world’s wealth- 
iest private citizen. 

As Ford’s workers became more productive, he could afford 
to pay them higher salaries. In 1914, he astonished the industrial 
world by raising the minimum wage in his plant to five dollars a 

day—an enormous figure for that time, and nearly twice as much 
as the company’s average wage had previously been. As the new, 
higher wage scale which Ford had introduced spread through the 
country, the overall result was to bring factory workers out of pov- 
erty and into the middle class. 

Assembly line at Ford’s Highland Park plant. 

460 THE 100 

But Ford’s innovations had an even broader impact. He was 
not secretive about his mass production techniques. On the con- 
trary, he was eager to publicize them. Other manufacturers, seeing 
his success, copied his production methods. The result was a tre- 
mendous increase in productivity throughout the country, and 
eventually the world. 

After Ford achieved financial success, he became active in 
various political causes. The results of these activities, however, 
must have disappointed him. His strenuous pacifist efforts during 
the early years of World War I fell on deaf ears. In the 1920s he 
embarked on a campaign of anti-Semitic propaganda; but this 
merely brought him discredit, and he eventually made a public 
retraction. In the 1930s, he bitterly fought the introduction of 
unions into his company. But this just antagonized his workers, 
and brought the company no benefits; so he eventually abandoned 
this struggle too. 

However, these later activities, though they damaged his repu- 
tation, had relatively little effect on the world. They do not affect 
the importance of his role in revolutionizing industrial production, 
and thereby vastly increasing the productivity and income of 



The Chinese philosopher Mencius was the most important suc- 
cessor to Confucius. His teachings, as set forth in the Book of 
Mencius, were highly esteemed in China for many centuries. He 
was often referred to as “the Second Sage,” that is, second in 
wisdom only to Confucius himself, whom he followed by about 
two hundred years. 

Mencius was born about 371 B.c., in the small state of Tsou, 
in what is now the Shantung province of China. The era in 
which he was born, the last stage of the Chou dynasty, is referred 
to by the Chinese as “the Period of the Warring States,” since 
China was politically disunited at that time. Mencius, though he 
had been reared in the Confucian tradition and was always a 
strong supporter of Confucian theories and ideals, eventually 
became respected as a scholar and philosopher in his own right. 

Mencius spent much of his adult life travelling about China 
and offering his advice to various rulers. Several rulers listened 
respectfully to him, and for a while he was an official in the state 
of Ch’i; but by and large, he held no permanent, policy-making 
government position. In 312 B.c., when he was about fifty-nine 
years old, he returned to his home state of Tsou, where he re- 
mained until his death. The year of his death is uncertain, but 
was probably 289 B.c. 


462 THE 100 

Mencius made disciples during his own lifetime, but his in- 
fluence upon China derives mainly from the Book of Mencius, in 
which his principal teachings are set forth. Although the book 
may have been subjected to some editing by his disciples, there 
seems little doubt that it basically represents Mencius’s own 

The tone of the Book of Mencius is idealistic and optimistic, 
reflecting Mencius’s firm conviction that human nature is 
basically good. In many ways, his political ideas are very much 
like those of Confucius; in particular, Mencius firmly believed 
that a king should rule primarily by moral example rather than 
by force. Mencius, however, was much more of a “people’s man” 
than Confucius was. “Heaven sees as the people see; heaven 
hears as the people hear,” is one of his best-known statements. 

Mencius stressed that the most important component of any 
state is the people, rather than their ruler. It is a ruler’s duty to 
promote the welfare of his people; in particular, he should pro- 
vide them with moral guidance and with suitable conditions for 
their livelihood. Among the governmental policies he advocated 
were: free trade; light taxes; conservation of natural resources; a 
more equal sharing of the wealth than generally prevailed; and 
government provision for the welfare of aged and disadvantaged 
persons. Mencius believed that a king’s authority derives from 
Heaven; but a king who ignores the welfare of the people will 
lose the “mandate of Heaven,” and will, rightly, be overthrown. 
Since the last part of that sentence effectively overrules the first 
part, Mencius was in fact asserting (long before John Locke,) 
that the people have a right to revolt against unjust rulers. It was 
an idea that became generally accepted in China. 

Now generally speaking, through most of history, the sort of 
policies that Mencius advocated have been more popular with 
subjects than with their rulers. It is therefore hardly surprising 
that Mencius’s proposals were not adopted by the Chinese rulers 
of his own day. In the course of time, however, his views became 
increasingly popular with Confucian scholars and with the 
Chinese people. Mencius’s reputation, which was already high, 

Mencius 463 

became evén greater in China following the rise of neo- 
Confucianism in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. 

In the West, of course, Mencius has had virtually no in- 
fluence whatsoever. This is only partly due to the fact that he 
wrote in Chinese. The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, which was 
written in China at roughly the same time as the Book of Men- 
cius, has been translated into European languages many times 
simply because so many people find the ideas expressed in that 
book intriguing. But relatively few Westerners have found the 
Book of Mencius particularly original or incisive. 

It may sound attractive for the government to concern itself 
with the welfare of the aged and the disadvantaged; it also 
sounds attractive to be in favor of low taxes. However, an 
American politician who announced that he was in favor of those 
two policies, without being a lot more specific, would be likely to 
be mistrusted by liberals and conservatives alike. Similarly, Men- 
cius indicates on the one hand that he favors a more equitable 
sharing of the wealth, and on the other hand indicates his ap- 
proval of free trade and low taxes, without ever really coming to 
grips with the possible conflicts between those policies. This may 
sound a bit unfair to Mencius, who after all was not running for 
Congress. There is something to be said for a philosopher who 
presents a set of worthy (though partly inconsistent) general prin- 
ciples, even if he does not specifically indicate how the conflicts 
between those principles are to be resolved. Nevertheless, in the 
long run, a philosopher such as Machiavelli, who expressed his 
priorities more clearly than Mencius did, has had more influence 
upon human thought. 

But Mencius’s writings have certainly influenced the Chi- 
nese. Though his importance to Confucianism is not nearly as 
great as St. Paul’s importance to Christianity (for one thing, 
Mencius lacked Paul’s unusual proselytizing ability), he was un- 
questionably an immensely influential writer. For roughly 
twenty-two centuries, his ideas were studied throughout a region 
that included over 20 percent of the world’s population. Only a 
few philosophers anywhere have had so great an influence. 


C. 6:28) B.C.-:¢...5'5 k-Ree 



The Iranian prophet Zoroaster was the founder of Zoroastrian- 
ism, a religion that has endured for over 2,500 years and still has 
adherents today. He was also the author of the Gathas, the oldest 
part of the Avesta, the sacred scriptures of the Zoroastrians. 

Our biographical information concerning Zoroaster (Zara- 
thushtra, in old Iranian) is sketchy, but it appears that he was 
born about 628 s.c., in what is now northern Iran. Little is 
known of his early life. As an adult, he preached the new religion 
that he had formulated. It met with opposition at first; however, 
when he was about forty, he was successful in converting King 
Vishtaspa, the ruler of a region in northeast Iran, to his new reli- 
gion. Thereafter, the king was his friend and protector. Ac- 
cording to Iranian tradition, Zoroaster lived to the age of 
seventy-seven; his death can therefore be placed somewhere 
around the year 551 B.c. 

Zoroaster 465 

Zoroastrian theology is an interesting mixture of mono- 
theism and dualism. According to Zoroaster, there is only one 
true God, whom he calls Ahura Mazda (in modern Persian, Or- 
muzd). Ahura Mazda (“the Wise Lord”) encourages righteous- 
ness and truthfulness. However, Zoroastrians also believe in the 
existence of an evil spirit, Angra Mainyu (in modern Persian, 
Ahriman) who represents evil and falsehood. In the real world 
there is a constant struggle between the forces of Ahura Mazda 
on the one side, and those of Ahriman on the other. Each in- 
dividual person is free to make his own choice of whether to side 
with Ahura Mazda or with Ahriman. Although the struggle bet- 
ween the two sides may be close at present, Zoroastrians believe 
that in the long run the forces of Ahura Mazda will win. Their 
theology also includes a strong belief in an afterlife. 

In ethical matters, the Zoroastrian religion stresses the im- 
portance of righteousness and truthfulness. Asceticism is op- 
posed, as is celibacy. Zoroastrians practice various interesting 
religious rituals, some of them centered about their reverence for 
fire. For example, a sacred flame is always kept burning in a 
Zoroastrian temple. However, by far their most distinctive 
religious practice is their method of disposing of the dead, who 
are neither buried or cremated, but put out on towers to be eaten 
by vultures. (The birds normally strip the bones bare within a 
couple of hours.) 

Although Zoroastrianism has various elements in common 
with the older Iranian religions, it does not appear to have spread 
widely during Zoroaster’s own lifetime. However, the region in 
which he had lived was incorporated into the Persian Empire by 
Cyrus the Great in the middle of the sixth century B.c., about the 
time that Zoroaster died. In the course of the next two centuries, 
the religion was adopted by the Persian kings and gained a con- 
siderable following. After the Persian Empire was conquered by 
Alexander the Great, in the last half of the fourth century B.c., 
the Zoroastrian religion underwent a severe decline. Eventually, 
however, the Persians regained their political independence, 
Hellenistic influences declined, and there was a revival of Zoro- 

466 THE 100 

astrianism. During the Sassanid dynasty (c. 226-651] a.p.) Zoro- 
astrianism was adopted as the state religion of Persia. 

After the Arab conquest of the seventh century 4.p., the 
bulk of the Persian population was gradually converted to Islam 
(in some cases forcibly, although in principle the Moslems 

A Parsee fire-temple in Bombay. 

Zoroaster 467 

tolerated the older religion). About the tenth century, some of 
the remaining Zoroastrians fled from Iran to Hormuz, an island 
in the Persian Gulf. From there, they or their descendants went 
to India, where they formed a small colony. The Hindus referred 
to them as Parsees, because of their Persian origin. There are well 
over one hundred thousand Parsees in India today, most of them 
living in or near the city of Bombay, where they constitute a fair- 
ly prosperous community. Zoroastrianism has never died out 
completely in Iran; however, only about twenty thousand 
followers remain in that country. 

Today, there are fewer Zoroastrians in the world than either 
Mormons or Christian Scientists. But Mormonism and Christian 
Science are of fairly recent origin; over the course of history, the 
total number of followers of Zoroaster has been far larger. That 
is a major reason why Zoroaster has been included in this book 
while Joseph Smith and Mary Baker Eddy have been omitted. 

Moreover, the theology of Zoroastrianism has influenced 
other religions, such as Judaism and Christianity. Even greater 
was the influence of Zoroastrianism on Manichaeism, the 
religion founded by Mani, who took over the Zoroastrian idea of 
a struggle between good and evil spirits and elaborated it into a 
complex and compelling theology. For a while, the new faith 
that he founded was a major world religion, although it has since 
died out completely. 

Zoroastrianism, of course, though one of the oldest religions 
extant, has always been basically a local religion rather than a 
major world faith. It therefore cannot compare in importance 
with religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. 






Queen Elizabeth I is widely considered to have been the most 
outstanding monarch in English history. Her forty-five-year 
reign was marked by economic prosperity, a great literary 
flowering, and the rise of England to first rank among the 
world’s naval powers. Living in an era when English monarchs 

Queen Elizabeth 469 

were not mere figureheads, she is justly entitled to a significant 
share of the credit for the achievements of England’s Golden 

Elizabeth was born in 1533, in Greenwich, England. Her 
father was King Henry VIII, who led the Reformation in 
England. Her mother was Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife. 
Anne was beheaded in 1536, and a few months later Parliament 
declared Elizabeth, then age three, to be illegitimate. (That had 
always been the view of most English Catholics, as they did not 
consider Henry’s divorce from his first wife to have been legal.) 
Despite this parliamentary rebuff, Elizabeth was reared in the 
royal household and received an excellent education. 

Henry VIII died in 1547, when Elizabeth was thirteen years 
old. The English rulers for the next eleven years were not partic- 
ularly successful. Edward VI, Elizabeth’s half brother, reigned 
from 1547 to 1553. Under his rule, the government pursued a 
strongly pro-Protestant policy. Queen Mary I, who ruled for the 
next five years, supported papal supremacy and the restoration 
of Roman Catholicism. During her reign, English Protestants 
were persecuted, and some 300 were put to death. (This earned 
for the queen the unflattering nickname “Bloody Mary.”) 
Elizabeth herself was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. 
Though she was later released, her life was in danger for some 
time. When Mary died (in 1558) and the twenty-five-year-old 
Elizabeth took the throne, there was popular rejoicing in 

Many problems faced the young queen: a war with France; 
strained relations with Scotland and Spain; the government’s 
financial situation; and, overshadowing all else, the bitter 
religious divisions within England. 

This last problem was handled first. Shortly after Elizabeth 
took office, the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity were passed 
(1559), establishing Anglicanism as the official English religion. 
This satisfied the moderate Protestants, but the Puritans desired 
a more radical reform. Despite the opposition of the Puritans on 
the one hand and the Catholics on the other, Elizabeth through- 
out her reign steadfastly maintained the compromise of 1559. 

470 THE 100 

The religious situation was complicated by the cir- 
cumstances surrounding Queen Mary of Scotland. Mary had 
been forced out of Scotland and had taken refuge in England. 
There, she soon found herself Elizabeth’s prisoner. Elizabeth’s 
action was not arbitrary: Mary was a Roman Catholic, and also 
had a good claim to succeed Elizabeth on the English throne. 
That meant that in case of a successful rebellion or assassination, 
England would again have a Catholic queen. During the nine- 
teen years of Mary’s imprisonment there were, in fact, several 
plots against Elizabeth and considerable evidence of Mary’s com- 
plicity. Finally, in 1587, Mary was put to death. Elizabeth 
signed the death warrant reluctantly. Her ministers and most 
members of Parliament had wished Mary to be executed far 

The religious conflict certainly had its dangers for 
Elizabeth. In 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated her and 
ordered her deposed; and in 1580, Pope Gregory XIII declared 
that it would not be a sin to assassinate Elizabeth. But the situ- 
ation also had advantages for Elizabeth. Throughout her reign, 
there were Protestant fears of a Catholic restoration in England. 
Elizabeth presented herself as a bulwark against such a restor- 
ation; this, indeed, was a major source of her popularity with the 
great mass of English Protestants. 

Elizabeth’s handling of foreign policy was astute. As early as 
1560, she concluded the Treaty of Edinburgh, which provided a 
peaceful settlement with Scotland. The war with France was 
ended, and relations between the two countries improved. 
Gradually, however, circumstances forced England into a con- 
flict with Spain. Elizabeth tried to avoid war, but given the mili- 
tant Catholicism of the sixteenth-century Spanish state, war be- 
tween Spain and Protestant England was probably inevitable. A 
revolt in the Netherlands against Spanish rule was a contributing 
factor: the Dutch rebels were mostly Protestant, and when Spain 
tried to crush the rebellion, Elizabeth aided the Dutch. Eliza- 
beth herself was not eager for war. Most of the English people, as 
well as her own ministers and Parliament, were more eager for 
armed encounter than she was. Therefore, when war with Spain 

Queen Elizabeth 471 

finally did come, in the 1580s, Elizabeth could count on the 
strong backing of the English people. 

Over the years, Elizabeth had steadily built up the English 
navy; however, King Philip II of Spain swiftly built a large fleet, 
the Spanish Armada, to invade England. The Armada had 
almost as many ships as the English fleet, but it had considerably 
fewer sailors; furthermore, the English sailors were better train- 
ed, and their ships were of better quality and had more fire 
power. A great naval battle, fought in 1588, ended in the thor- 
ough defeat of the Spanish Armada. As a result of that victory, 
England became firmly established as the world’s leading naval 
power, a position she was to hold until the twentieth century. 

Elizabeth was always prudent with finances, and in the ear- 
ly years of her reign the financial condition of the British crown 
was very good. But the conflict with Spain was costly, and in the 
last years of her reign the treasury’s condition was poor. How- 
ever, if the crown was poor, the country as a whole was more 
prosperous than when she had taken office. 

Elizabeth’s forty-five-year-reign (from 1558 to 1603) is often 
considered the Golden Age of England. Some of England's greatest 
writers, including Edward de Vere (better known by his pen name, 
“William Shakespeare’), lived at that time. Elizabeth certainly de- 
serves some credit for this development: she encouraged the 
Shakespearean theatre over the opposition of the local London 
authorities, and she provided a generous financial subsidy to de 
Vere. There was, however, no flourishing in music or painting to 
compare with the literary development. 

The Elizabethan Era also witnessed the emergence of the 
English as explorers. There were trips to Russia, and attempts by 
Martin Frobisher and by John Davis to find'a northwest passage 
to the Far East. Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world 
(1577 to 1580), touching at California in the course of his trip. 
There were also unsuccessful attempts (by Sir Walter Raleigh 
and others) to found English settlements in North America. 

Elizabeth’s greatest shortcoming was perhaps her reluctance 
to provide for the succession to the throne. Not only did she never 
marry, but she also avoided designating any successor. (Perhaps 
that was because she feared that any person named as successor 

472 THE 100 

might soon become a dangerous rival to her.) Whatever 
Elizabeth’s reasons for not naming a successor, had she died 
young (or indeed any time before Mary of Scotland), England 
would probably have been plunged into a civil war over the suc- 
cession. Luckily for England, Elizabeth lived until the age of 
seventy. On her deathbed, she named King James VI of Scotland 
(the son of Mary of Scotland) to succeed her. Though this united 
England and Scotland under one throne, it was a dubious choice. 
Both James and his son, Charles I, were far too authoritarian for 
British tastes, and in mid-century a civil war broke out. 

Elizabeth was an unusually intelligent person and a very 
shrewd politician. She was cautious and conservative. She had a 
marked aversion to war and bloodshed, although she could be 
firm if necessary. Like her father, she exercised political power 
by working with Parliament, rather than fighting against it. She 
never married and it is likely that she remained a virgin, as she 
publicly asserted. But it would be quite incorrect to think of her 
as a man-hater. Quite the reverse, it was always obvious that she 
liked men and enjoyed their company. Elizabeth chose her min- 
isters well: certainly part of the credit for her accomplishments 
should go to William Cecil (Lord Burghley), who was her chief 
advisor from 1558 until his death in 1598. 

Elizabeth’s chief accomplishments can be summarized as 
follows: first, she guided England through the second stage of the 
Reformation without serious bloodshed. (The contrast with Ger- 
many, where the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) killed over 25 
percent of the population, is particularly striking.) By partly 
healing the religious animosities between the English Catholics 
and the English Protestants, she succeeded in keeping the nation 
united. Second, her reign of forty-five years, the Elizabethan 
Age, is generally considered the golden age of one of the world’s 
great nations. Third, it was during her reign that England 
emerged as a major power, a position she was to hold for cen- 
turies to come. 

Elizabeth is a distinct anomaly on this list. Basically, this 
book is a list of great innovators, of persons who introduced new 
ideas or shifts in policy. Elizabeth was not an innovator, and her 


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The defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588) marked the 
beginning of English naval supremacy under Elizabeth I. 

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policies were generally cautious and conservative. Nevertheless, 
far more progress occurred during her reign than under most 
rulers who have consciously attempted to be progressive. 

Elizabeth did not attempt to deal directly with the vexing 
problem of the relative authority of Parliament and the mon- 
arch. But by simply avoiding being a despot, she probably did 
more to aid the development of British democracy than if she had 
promulgated a democratic constitution. Elizabeth did not seek 
military glory, nor was she interested in building a large empire. 
(Indeed, under Elizabeth, England did not have an empire.) 
Nevertheless, she left England with the world’s strongest navy, 
and laid the foundation for the enormous British Empire which 


474 THE 100 

Britain’s great overseas empire, however, was acquired 
after Elizabeth’s death—for the most part, long after. Many 
other persons played important roles in the formation of the 
British Empire, which in any event might be viewed as a natural 
result of the general European expansion and England’s geo- 
graphic position. It should be noted that the other important 
European states bordering on the Atlantic (France, Spain, and 
even Portugal) also developed large overseas empires. 

Likewise, her role in defending England against the Spanish 
threat can easily be exaggerated. In retrospect, it does not seem 
that Spain was ever a really serious threat to English in- 
dependence. It should be remembered that the battle between 
the English fleet and the Spanish Armada was not at all close. 
(The English did not lose a single ship!) Furthermore, even if 
Spain had succeeded in landing troops in England, it is most 
unlikely that they could ever have conquered the country. 
Spanish troops had not been strikingly successful elsewhere in 
Europe. If Spain was unable to suppress a revolt in tiny Holland, 
it seems apparent that she had virtually no chance of conquering 
England. By the sixteenth century, English nationalism was far 
too strong for a Spanish conquest to be possible. 

Where then should Elizabeth be ranked? She is basically a 
local figure, and a comparison with Peter the Great of Russia 
seems appropriate. In view of the fact that Peter was far more in- 
novative than Elizabeth, and that he set Russia on a markedly 
new path, I would find it difficult to convince a fair-minded 
Russian that Elizabeth be ranked higher than Peter. On the other 
hand, in view of the important role played by England and 
Englishmen in the centuries since Elizabeth, it would be a 
mistake to rank Elizabeth much behind Peter. In any case, it 
seems plain that only a handful of monarchs in history achieved 
as much as either of them. 



The most important political event of the last forty years has been 
the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Commu- 
nism. That movement—which for decades threatened to engulf the 
whole world—has declined with startling speed, and now seems 
to be headed for the “dustbin of history.” One man stands out 
as the pivotal figure in that astonishing decline and fall: Mikhail 
Gorbachev, the man who headed the USSR during its last six years 


476 THE 100 

Gorbachev was born in 1931 in the village of Privolnoe, in the 
Stavropol region of southern Russia. His childhood coincided with 
the most brutal period of the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, one of 
the bloodiest tyrants in history. Indeed, Mikhail’s own grandfather, 
Andrei, spent nine years in Stalin's prison camps and was not re- 
leased until 1941, only a few months before Germany invaded 
Russia. Mikhail himself was too young to serve in World War II; 
but his father served in the army, his older brother died in action, 
and Privolnoe was occupied by the Germans for about eight 

None of this, however, delayed Gorbachev's career. He got 
excellent grades in school, joined Komsomol (the Young Commu- 
nist League) when he was fifteen, and then worked for four years 
as the operator of a combine harvester. He entered Moscow State 
University in 1950, studied law there, and graduated in 1955. It 
was there (in 1952) that he became a member of the Communist 
party, and there that he met his future wife, Raisa Maximovna 
Titorenko. They married shortly before his graduation, and have 
one child, Irina. 

After receiving his law degree, Gorbachev returned to Stavro- 
pol and commenced his gradual rise through the party bureauc- 
racy. In 1970, he became First Secretary of the regional party 
committee, and the following year he was appointed a member of 
the Central Committee of the Communist party. He got a big 
promotion in 1978, when he moved to Moscow to become a secre- 
tary of the Central Committee, in charge of agriculture. In 1979, 
Gorbachev became a candidate member of the Politburo (which 
was, effectively, the ruling body of the Soviet Union), and in 1980, 
he became a full member. 

All these promotions occurred during the period (1964—1982) 
when Leonid Brezhnev headed the Soviet Union. Brezhnev’s death 
was followed by the brief reigns of Andropov (1982-1984) and 
Chernenko (1984—1985), and it was during those years that Gorba- 
chev became a prominent member of the Politburo. Chernenko 
died on March 11, 1985, and the very next day Gorbachev was 
named to succeed him as Secretary General. (The Politburo voted 

Gorbachev and Reagan sign arms limitation agreement at 
summit meeting in Washington, D.C. (December 8, 1987). 



478 THE 100 

in secret, but it is rumored that Gorbachev's election was by only 
a small margin over Viktor Grishin, a quite conservative figure. 
How different history might have been if only two or three persons 
had voted the other way!) 

Unlike most Soviet leaders, Gorbachev had traveled abroad 
(France, 1966; Italy, 1967; Canada, 1983; England, 1984) before he 
became party leader; so when he was elected, many Westerners 
hoped that Gorbachev would be a more modern and liberal leader 
than his predecessors had been. This turned out to be the case, 
but nobody anticipated the speed and magnitude of the reforms 
that he would make. 

The Soviet Union faced many serious problems when Gorba- 
chev took office, but all were exacerbated by the financial crunch 
caused by the enormous government spending on armaments. 
Hoping to end the arms race, he quickly accepted the proposal of 
the American president, Ronald Reagan, for a summit meeting. 
The two leaders met on four occasions: in Geneva (1985), Reykjavik 
(1986), Washington (1987), and in Moscow (1988). The most dra- 
matic result was the arms limitation treaty signed in December 
1987. This was the first treaty that actually reduced the number of 
nuclear weapons which the great powers had. In fact, an entire 
class of medium-range missiles was eliminated entirely! 

Another action that reduced international tensions was Gorba- 
chev's decision to remove the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The 
Soviet army had invaded that country in 1979, during the Brezhnev 
era, and at first had considerable military success. But after 
Reagan's decision to supply the Afghan guerrillas with Stinger sur- 
face-to-air missiles (which greatly reduced the effectiveness of So- 
viet air power), the tide shifted, and the Soviets got bogged down 
in a long, inconclusive war. The outside world had always severely 
criticized the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the war was costly 
and unpopular at home; but Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko 
(and, at first, Gorbachev too) had all been unwilling to pull out, 
fearing a loss of face. Finally, though, Gorbachev decided to cut 
his losses, and early in 1988 he signed an agreement providing for 
the withdrawal of all Soviet forces. (The withdrawal was completed 
by the agreed date in February 1989.) 

Mikhail Gorbachev 479 

These changes in foreign policy were dramatic, but the bulk 
of Gorbachev's efforts were devoted to domestic matters. From the 
beginning, he saw that a major program of perestroika (“restructur- 
ing’) was needed in order to deal with the poor performance of 
the Soviet economy. As one aspect of this restructuring, the power 
of the Communist party (which formerly had been in virtually 
complete control of the Soviet government) was greatly reduced 
under Gorbachev. On the economic level, the restructuring in- 
cluded the legalization of private enterprise in some fields. 

It should be noted that Gorbachev always insisted that he was 
a loyal follower of Marx and Lenin, and a firm believer in socialism. 
His goal, he said, was merely to reform the Communist system so 
that it would work better. 

Perhaps the most revolutionary of his reforms was the policy 
of glasnost, or “openness,” which Gorbachev instituted in 1986. 
One aspect of glasnost was more openness and candor by the gov- 
ernment concerning its activities and concerning events of public 
interest. Another aspect was permitting private individuals or pub- 
lications to discuss political matters freely. The publication of views 
whose expression, just a few years earlier, would have brought a 
prison sentence (perhaps a death sentence during the Stalin era!) 
became commonplace under glasnost. It became possible for So- 
viet journals to criticize government policies, the Communist 
Party, high government officials, even Gorbachev himself! 

Another important step in the democratization of the USSR 
occurred in 1989, when popular elections were held for a new 
Soviet parliament, the Council of People’s Deputies. These were 
certainly not free elections in the Western sense: 90 percent of the 
candidates were members of the ruling Communist party, and no 
other political parties were allowed. But the elections were held 
by secret ballot; they did involve a choice of candidates; and the 
votes were counted honestly. They were certainly the closest thing 
to free elections since the Communists took power in 1917. 

The results of the election came close—as close as the rules 
allowed—to a vote of “no confidence” in the Communist party. 
Many old-line party leaders (including a few who ran unopposed!) 
were defeated, and several outspoken dissidents were elected. 

480 THE 100 

Despite these impressive reforms within the USSR, nobody 
anticipated the cataclysmic changes that occurred in Eastern Eu- 
rope in 1989-1990. That entire region had been occupied by Rus- 
sian troops at the close of World War II, and in the 1940s 
Communist regimes—reliably subservient to the Soviet Union— Bf A a hak, Se Ge tiate 
had been established in six countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Te SE ee 
Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany. These regimes were 
generally unpopular; but their leaders, backed by the secret police 
and the army, had held sway for over forty years. Even when a 
popular revolt succeeded in overthrowing one of the Communist 
-tyrants—as had occurred in Hungary in 1956—Soviet troops soon 
restored the Communists to power. Although elections in Poland 
in June 1989 had clearly shown how little popular support the 
Communists enjoyed in the region, as late as September 1989 it 

seemed that Communist—and Russian—control of Eastern Eu- 
rope was secure. By the end of the year, however, the entire system 
had collapsed like a house of cards in a hurricane. 

tas Pe > - , = lw a ay 2 oats = Dice te ie . : 

Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, visiting Riga in 1987. 

Mikhail Gorbachev 48] 

The troubles started in East Germany. Ever since the erection 
of the infamous Berlin Wall in 1961, many East Germans had 
wished to escape to the West, and many had been shot in a vain 
attempt to cross the Wall to freedom. For years, the Wall had been 
a grim symbol that East Germany—and, in fact, all Communist 
regimes—-were little more than enormous prison camps. Nor could 
the East Germans cross over to the West at other points, as their 
government had sealed the entire border and had erected an exten- 
sive set of barbed-wire fences, alarms, military patrols and mine- 
fields to catch would-be escapees. However, in 1988 and 1989 many 
East Germans had succeeded in escaping by an indirect route, by 
first going to another East European country (which was legal) and 
from there going to the West. 

In October 1989, Erich Honecker—the tough, hard-line 
Communist who had ruled East Germany for many years—tried 
to shut down this alternate escape route. A few days later there 
were large demonstrations in East Berlin, protesting Honecker’s 
action. In this crisis, Gorbachev visited Berlin, urged Honecker 
not to delay reforms, warned him not to suppress the demonstra- 
tions by force, and made it clear that Soviet troops (there were 
380,000 in East Germany at the time) would not be used against 
the East German population. 

Gorbachev's remarks forestalled a bloody crackdown by the 
East German police and army, while boosting the confidence of 
the protesters. Within a few days, a series of massive public demon- 
strations began in various East German cities. Within two weeks, 
Honecker was forced to resign. However, as his replacement (Egon 
Krenz), was also a Communist, and since the borders were still 
closed, the mass demonstrations continued. Finally, on November 
9, Krenz announced that the Berlin Wall would be opened and 
that East Germans would be allowed to cross over freely to the 

Few announcements have caused such jubilation, and few have 
had such swift and profound consequences. Within a few days, 
millions of East Germans streamed across the border, to see with 
their own eyes what life in the West was really like. What they saw 

482 THE 100 

convinced them that forty-four years of Communist rule had 
robbed them of both their freedom and their prosperity. 

The opening of the Berlin Wall provided remarkable confir- 
mation of the philosopher's dictum that it is not the facts them- 
selves that really matter, but the way that people view them. In 
the first few days after Krenz’s announcement, the Wall was still 
physically intact, and in principle the East German government 
could have re-closed the border at any time. But people behaved 
as if the border was permanently open; and since everybody re- 
acted this way, the effect was the same as if the Wall really had 
been physically removed! 

Throughout Eastern Europe people reacted to the destruction 
of the Berlin Wall much as the French population, two centuries 
earlier, had responded to the destruction of the Bastille: It was a 
dramatic indication that the tyrants had lost their power to oppress. 
In country after country, the people rose up against their masters 
and swept aside the Communist regimes that had ruled them for 
so long. 

In Bulgaria, Todor Zhivkov, who had ruled that country with 
an iron hand for thirty-five years, was quickly forced to resign (No- 
vember 10, 1989). 

A week later, massive demonstrations began in Prague, the 
capital of Czechoslovakia. By December 10, these resulted in the 
resignation of president Gustav Husak and the relinquishment of 
power by the Communist party. Husak was soon replaced as presi- 
dent by Jaclav Havel, a prominent dissident who had spent the 
first few months of the year in jail as a political prisoner! 

The changes were even more rapid in Hungary. There, the 
government had legalized opposition parties in October 1989. 
Then, in free elections held on November 26, these new parties 
decisively defeated the Communists, who relinquished power 
without bloodshed. 

In Poland, events moved faster still and, late in the year, the 
victorious anti-Communists decided to completely scrap socialism 
and install a thoroughgoing free-market economy starting January 
1, 1990. 

Mikhail Gorbachev 483 

Egon Krenz, in East Germany, had perhaps hoped that by 
opening the border he would placate the opposition and end the 
protests. It did not work out that way. The protests continued, and 
Krenz resigned as head of state on December 3, 1989. Four days 
later the government agreed to hold free elections (in which, not 
surprisingly, the Communists were badly defeated). 

The last holdout was Romania, where hard-line dictator Nico- 
lae Ceausescu was determined not to relinquish his power. When 
demonstrations against his rule occurred in Timisoara on Decem- 
ber 15, he had the army fire on the crowds. But the enraged 
populace would not be suppressed. The demonstrations continued, 
then soon spread to other cities. On December 25, Ceausesco was 
overthrown, captured, and executed. The last domino had fallen in 
Eastern Europe. 

These events—momentous in themselves—soon led to: (1) the 
removal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia and Hungary; (2) 
genuine elections in the newly-freed states (in general, the Com- 
munist parties have done very poorly); (3) the abandonment of 
Marxism in several other countries that had been Soviet client 
states (for example, Mongolia and Ethiopia); (4) the reunification 
of Germany (completed in October 1990). 

More important than any of these changes, however, was the 
rapid growth of nationalist movements within the USSR. Despite 
its name, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was never a volun- 
tary union. Rather, it was the successor to the old Russian Empire 
ruled by the czars: an assemblage of peoples brought together by 
conquest. (“The prison-house of nations,” was how Westerners 
used to describe the czarist empire.) Many of those peoples had 
continued to desire their independence, just as the inhabitants of 
the old British, French, and Dutch empires had wanted freedom. 
It had been impossible to publicly express these yearnings under 
the iron rule of Stalin, or under the less brutal but still firm hand 
of his successors. But under Gorbachev's glasnost these nationalist 
desires could be mentioned, and it was not long before organized 
movements arose. There was unrest in Estonia, in Latvia, in Mol- 
davia, and in several other Soviet republics; but it was in tiny little 

Se Sette. Ate LAS | 

484 THE 100 

Lithuania that matters first came to the breaking point. On March 
11, 1990, following general elections in which the question of se- 
cession had been the principal issue, the Lithuanian parliament 
boldly declared that country’s complete independence from the 

Technically, the Lithuanians were within their rights: For dec- 
ades, the Soviet constitution had included a provision permitting 
any republic a right to secede. However, before Gorbachev, it had 
always been understood that any attempt to exercise that right 
would be firmly suppressed, with grievous consequences to those 
who made the attempt. 

Gorbachev's response was interesting. He promptly de- 
nounced the Lithuanian action as illegal, threatened dire conse- 
quences if it were not reversed, imposed an economic embargo, 
and paraded Soviet troops through the Lithuanian capital in a show 
of military force. But he did not crush the breakaway province 
by direct military force; nor did he shoot, or even imprison, the 
Lithuanian leaders (as Stalin surely would have done). 

Lithuania is a small country and in itself was neither economi- 
cally nor militarily important to the Soviet Union. However, the 
example set by Lithuania was very important. When the Lithua- 
nian attempt at secession was not promptly crushed, nationalists 
in all the other Soviet republics gained hope and courage. Within 
two months, the parliament of Latvia also passed a declaration of 
independence from the USSR. Then on June 12, 1990, the Russian 
SSR (the largest republic in the Soviet Union) declared its “sover- 
eignty —not quite a declaration of independence, but pretty close 
to that. By the end of the year, there were declarations of either 
independence or sovereignty in every one of the fifteen Soviet 

Quite naturally, these enormous changes unleashed by Gorba- 
chev’s actions (and inactions at critical stages) were viewed with 
great misgivings by many of the old-line leaders of the Communist 
party and the Soviet Army. In August, 1991, some of these staged 
a coup detat. Gorbachev was arrested, and it appeared that the 
coup leaders might succeed in reversing many of his reforms. How- 

Mikhail Gorbachev 485 

ever, other prominent leaders within the Soviet Union—most nota- 
bly Boris Yeltsin, the head of the Russian republic—opposed the 
coup, as did the bulk of the Russian population, and the coup 
collapsed in a few days. 

After the failure of the coup, events moved with astonishing 
speed. The Communist party was promptly thrown out of power, 
its activities banned, and its property seized. Furthermore, by the 
end of the year, all the component republics of the USSR had 
seceded, and the Soviet Union was formally dissolved. Those lead- 
ers who had wished to merely reform the Communist system were 
quickly pushed aside by those, such as Yeltsin, who wished to 
eliminate it entirely. Gorbachev himself resigned from office in 
December 1991. 

This leads us to the next question: Just how responsible is 
Gorbachev personally for the changes which occurred during his 
years in office? 

Various economic reforms were made in the USSR under his 
leadership. However, it seems to me that he deserves rather little 
credit in this respect. In general, reforms were forced on him by 
the obvious failures of the Soviet system, and the reforms that he 
did make were too little and too late. In fact, the poor performance 
of the Soviet economy was a leading cause of Gorbachev's eventual 

On the other hand, Gorbachev deserves a good deal of credit 
for his role in the freeing of Eastern Europe. Six countries have 
been liberated from Soviet control, and this change is unlikely 
to be reversed. Nor can Gorbachev's personal influence in what 
occurred be doubted. The movements for reform in Eastern Eu- 
rope had all been stimulated by the liberalization within Russia 
itself, and had been heartened by his repeated statements that he 
was willing to let the East European countries go their own way. 
Furthermore, at the crucial moment—in October 1989, when the 
mass demonstrations in East Germany began—Gorbachev inter- 
vened personally. In similar circumstances, previous Soviet leaders 
had always called out the troops and used whatever brutality was 
needed to suppress the rebels. However, in October 1989, Gorba- 

486 THE 100 

chev stepped in to persuade the Honecker regime not to repress 
‘ the demonstrations by force. We have seen the consequences of 
that decision. Similarly, Gorbachev's decision not to use military 
force to crush the Lithuanian revolt led fairly quickly to the seces- 
sion of the other Soviet republics. 

Also important was Gorbachev's influence on arms limitation 
and on ending the Cold War. Many people have suggested that 
Ronald Reagan deserves a good deal of the credit for this. In the 
first place, by demonstrating that the United States was far better 
able than the Soviet Union to bear the costs of the arms race, he 
played an important part in convincing the Soviet leaders that they 
had to bring an end to the Cold War. Furthermore, they argue, 
since it necessarily takes two parties to make an agreement, credit 
for the arms limitation treaty should at least be shared equally 
between Gorbachev and Reagan. 

Such a view would be correct if the Cold War had been equally 
the fault of the United States and the Soviet Union. However, 
that was not the case. The Cold War was caused by the military 
expansionism of Stalin and his successors, and the American re- 
sponse was basically a defensive reaction. As long as Soviet leaders 
clung to their dream of imposing Communism on the world, the 
West had no way (other than surrender) of ending the conflict. 
When a Soviet leader appeared who was willing to abandon that 
goal, the seemingly interminable Cold War soon melted away. 

Gorbachev deserves even more credit for the political changes 
he caused within the Soviet Union. The lessening of the power 
of the Communist party, the growth of glasnost, the remarkable 
advances in press freedom and freedom of speech, the general 
democratization of the country: none of these would have gone 
nearly as far as they did, had it not been for Gorbachev. Glasnost 
was not something forced on him by popular pressure; nor was it 
a policy which the other Politburo members were insisting on. It 
was Gorbachev's idea, and he promoted it and continued to sup- 
port it despite considerable opposition. 

It was glasnost, perhaps, more that anything else, which per- 
mitted the final overthrow of the Soviet system. That this revolu- 

Mikhail Gorbachev 487 

tionary change has taken place without significant violence (at least 
so far) is truly remarkable, and is surely due in no small part to 
Gorbachev's policies and conduct in office. 

It has been remarked that some of the most important results 
of Gorbachev's actions (such as the reunification of Germany, the 
breakup of the Soviet Union, and the demise of Communism) were 
never intended by him. That may be so, but it does not diminish his 
importance. The influence of a political leader—or anyone else—is 
determined by the effect of his actions, not by his intentions. 

Many other persons, of course, (most of them fervent anti- 
Communists) contributed to the defeat of Marxism: ex-communists 
such as Arthur Koestler and Whittaker Chambers, who alerted the 
West to the true nature of the Communist system; Soviet dissidents 
such as Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitzen, who risked 
their lives to speak out within Russia; guerrilla fighters such as the 
rebels in Afghanistan, Angola, and Nicaragua, who fought bravely 
to prevent Communist governments from securing power in those 
countries; and political leaders in the United States, such as Harry 
Truman and Ronald Reagan, who used American arms, American 
financial resources, and the example of American freedom and 
prosperity to resist the spread of Communism and to ultimately 
defeat it. 

Still, despite the efforts of all those persons (and many more), 
when Gorbachev took office in 1985 no one anticipated that the 
demise of the Communist empire was close at hand. Indeed, had 
someone like Lenin or Stalin been selected in 1985 to head the 
Soviet state, that repressive government might still be standing, 
and the Cold War still continuing. 

However, it was not a Stalin, but rather Mikhail Gorbachev 
who was chosen in 1985 to head the Soviet Union. Though he 
never intended to dismantle the Soviet Union and the Communist 
party that had ruled it since its creation, the policies that he 
adopted and the forces that he set in motion had that result. Re- 
gardless of his intentions, he has changed our world irrevocably. 



96 MENES fc 3100 Bc. 


Menes, the original king of the first Egyptian dynasty, was the 
ruler who first united Egypt, and thereby established the king- 
dom that was to play such a long and glorious role in human ci- 

The dates of Menes’s birth and death are unknown, al- 
though he is generally believed to have flourished c. 3100 B.c. 
Prior to that time, Egypt was not a unified country but consisted 
of two independent kingdoms, one situated in the north, in the 
Nile Delta, and the other further south, along the Nile Valley. 
(Since the Nile flows down to the sea, on ancient Egyptian maps 
the mouths of the Nile appeared at the bottom of the page. For 
that reason, the Egyptians referred to the Delta in the north as 
“Lower Egypt,” while they called the southern kingdom “Upper 
Egypt.”) Generally speaking, Lower Egypt seems to have been 

Menes 489 

This ebony tablet from the First Dynasty is one of the 
earliest known examples of hieroglyphics, and contains 
the royal hawk of Menes (upper left). 

more advanced culturally than her southern neighbor. But it was 
King Menes, the ruler of Upper Egypt, who succeeded in con- 
quering the north, and thereby united the entire country. 

Menes (who was also known as Narmer) came from Thinis, 
a town in southern Egypt. After subduing the northern kingdom, 
he referred to himself as “King of Upper and Lower Egypt,” a ti- 
tle that was retained by succeeding pharaohs for thousands of 
years. Near the former boundary between the two kingdoms 
Menes founded a new city, Memphis, which because of its cen- 
tral location was well suited to be the capital of the united coun- 
try. Memphis, the ruins of which lie not far from present-day 
Cairo, was for many centuries one of the leading cities of Egypt, 
and for a considerable period her capital. 

Little additional information about Menes has been pre- 
served. He is credited with a very long reign—sixty-two years, 
according to one ancient source, although that may well be an 

Despite our limited knowledge of the events of that distant 
time, Menes’s achievement seems to have been of enormous im- 
portance. During predynastic times (that is, before Menes), 
Egyptian culture was considerably less advanced than that of the 
Sumerian civilization, situated in what is now Iraq. The political 
unification of Egypt, however, seemed to release the latent 
powers of the Egyptian people. Certainly, the unification was 
followed by a period of rapid advance in social and cultural mat- 
ters. Governmental and social institutions were developed dur- 
ing that early dynastic period which were to endure, with com- 
parative little change, for two millenia. Hieroglyphic writing de- 
veloped rapidly, as did building and other technical skills. With- 
in a few centuries, Egyptian culture had equalled—and in many 
ways surpassed—that of Sumeria. Indeed, during most of the 

490 THE 100 

two thousand years following Menes, Egypt, from the standpoint 
of wealth and culture, was either the most advanced nation in 
the world or a close second. That is a record of enduring achieve- 
ment that few civilizations can rival. 

It is difficult to know just where Menes belongs on this list, 
for we have no direct information as to how important his per- 
sonal activities were in the conquest of the north and the unifica- 
tion of Egypt. Lacking reliable information, we can only conjec- 
ture how large his role was; but it seems a rather safe guess that it 
was quite important. In general, Egyptian pharaohs were not 
figureheads but actual rulers possessing enormous authority. 
Furthermore, history tells us that kingdoms rarely achieve im- 
portant conquests under the leadership of an inept king; nor are 
they likely to retain and consolidate their conquests without able 
leadership. It therefore appears highly probable that Menes per- 
sonally was an important factor in the great events of his day. 
Despite the paucity of our knowledge concerning him, it appears 
that Menes was indeed one of the most influential figures in 


The medieval emperor Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was 
king of the Franks, conqueror of Saxony, founder of the Holy 
Roman Empire, and one of the foremost rulers in European 

Charles was born in 742, probably near the city of Aachen, 
which later became his capital. His father was Pepin the Short, 
and his grandfather was Charles Martel, the great Frankish 
leader whose victory in 732 at the Battle of Tours had thwarted 
an attempted Moslem conquest of France. In 751, Pepin had 
been declared king of the Franks, thus ending the weak Merov- 
ingian dynasty, and founding a new dynasty which is today call- 
ed Carolingian, after Charlemagne. In 768, Pepin died, and the 
Frankish kingdom was divided between Charles and his brother, 
Carloman. Fortunately for Charles and for Frankish unity, 
Carloman died unexpectedly in 771. That left Charles, at age 
twenty-nine, the sole ruler of the Frankish kingdom, which was 
already the strongest state in western Europe. 


492 THE 100 

At the accession of Charles, the Frankish state consisted 
primarily of present-day France, Belgium, and Switzerland, plus 
considerable holdings in present-day Holland and Germany. 
Charles wasted little time before starting to expand his domains. 
Carloman’s widow and children had sought refuge in the Lom- 
bard kingdom in northern Italy. Charlemagne divorced his own 
Lombard wife Desiderata and led his army into northern Italy. 
By 774, the Lombards were decisively defeated. Northern Italy 
was assimilated into his holdings, although four additional inva- 
sions were needed to consolidate his rule. Carloman’s widow and 
children fell into Charlemagne’s hands, and were never seen 

Perhaps more important, and certainly more difficult, was 
Charlemagne’s conquest of Saxony, a large region in northern 
Germany. This required no fewer than eighteen campaigns, the 
first in 772, and the last in 804. Religious factors were certainly 
part of the reason why the wars against the Saxons were so pro- 
tracted and bloody. The Saxons were pagans, and Charlemagne 
insisted that all his Saxon subjects convert to Christianity. Those 
who refused baptism or who later reverted to paganism were put 
to death. There have been estimates that as much as one-fourth 
of the population of Saxony was killed in the process of these 
forced conversions. 

Charles also fought campaigns in southern Germany and in 
southwest France to consolidate his control over those regions. 
To secure the eastern frontiers of his empire, Charlemagne 
engaged in a series of wars against the Avars. The Avars were an 
Asiatic people related to the Huns, and they controlled a large 
territory in what is today Hungary and Yugoslavia. Eventually, 
Charlemagne thoroughly defeated the Avar armies. Though the 
lands east of Saxony and Bavaria were not occupied by the 
Franks, other states which recognized Frankish suzerainty were 
set up in a broad strip from eastern Germany to Croatia. 

Charlemagne also tried to secure his southern frontier. In 
778, he led an invasion of Spain. It was unsuccessful; however, 
Charles did manage to establish in northern Spain a border state, 

Charlemagne 493 

known as the Spanish March, which recognized his sovereignty. 

As a result of his numerous successful wars (the Franks 
fought fifty-four campaigns during the forty-five years of his 
reign), Charlemagne succeeded in uniting most of western 
Europe under his rule. At its height, his empire included most of 
present-day France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the 
Low Countries, plus a large part of Italy, and various bordering 
areas. Not since the fall of the Roman Empire had so much of 
Europe been controlled by a single state. 

Throughout his reign, Charlemagne maintained a close 
political alliance with the Papacy. During his lifetime, however, 
it was always clear that Charlemagne, rather than the Pope, was 
the dominant partner. 

The high point, or at least the most famous event, of 
Charlemagne’s reign occurred in Rome, on Christmas Day in 
the year 800. On that day, Pope Leo III placed a crown on 
Charles’s head and proclaimed him the emperor of the Romans. 
In principal, this meant that the Western Roman Empire, which 
had been destroyed more than three centuries earlier, was being 
restored, and that Charlemagne was now the rightful successor 
to Augustus Caesar. 

Actually, of course, it was ridiculous to maintain that 
Charlemagne’s empire was a restoration of imperial Rome. In 
the first place, the territory ruled by the two empires was quite 
different. Charlemagne’s empire, large as it was, included only 
about half of the territory of the Western Roman Empire. The 
region common to both empires included Belgium, France, 
Switzerland, and northern Italy. But England, Spain, southern 
Italy, and northern Africa, which had all formed part of the 
Roman Empire, were outside of Charlemagne’s control; whereas 
Germany, which formed an important portion of his dominion, 
had never been under Roman rule. In the second place, Charle- 
magne was not Roman in any sense whatever: not by birth, not 
by outlook, not by culture. The Franks were a Teutonic tribe, 
and Charlemagne’s native tongue was an old Germanic dialect, 
though he also learned to speak Latin. Charles lived most of his 

494 THE 100 

life in northern Europe, particularly in Germany, and made only 
four visits to Italy. The capital of his empire was not Rome but 
Aachen, in present-day Germany, not far from the Dutch and Bel- 
gian borders. 

Charlemagne’s usual political astuteness failed him badly 
when it came to the question of the succession to his throne. 
Although he had spent most of his life fighting wars to unify a 

Charlemagne’s Empire. 



Frankish territory in 768 A.D. a eee 

Ba Conquests of Charlemagne, 768-814 A.D. 
- Tributary states and peoples in 814 A.D. 

Charlemagne 495 

large portion of western Europe, he could think of no cleverer 
plan than that of dividing the Empire between his three sons 
when he died. Such a procedure is usually an infallible prescrip- 
tion for engendering warfare. As it turned out, however, his two 
eldest sons died shortly before Charlemagne himself. As a result, 
his third son, Louis the Pious, was able to inherit Charlemagne’s 
empire intact when Charlemagne died in Aachen, in 814. 
However, Louis showed no better judgment than his father had 
when it came to the succession: he, too, wished to divide the em- 
pire among his sons. After some fighting, Louis’s sons finally 
signed the Treaty of Verdun (in 843), by which the Frankish em- 
pire was divided into three portions. The first portion comprised 
most of present-day France; the second included a large portion 
of Germany; and the third included both northern Italy and a 
wide strip straddling the French-German border. 

Now, there are some persons who estimate Charlemagne’s 
influence more highly than I do. It has been said that he restored 
the Roman Empire; that he reunited western Europe; that he 
brought Saxony into western Europe; that he set the pattern for 
most of the succeeding history of western Europe; that he 
safeguarded western Europe from external threats; that he 
established the rough boundaries of France, Germany, and Italy; 
that he spread Christianity; and that his coronation by the Pope 
set the stage for the centuries-long struggle between the State and 
the Church in Europe. To my mind, such claims are greatly ex- 
aggerated. In the first place, the so-called Holy Roman Empire 
was not really a restoration of the Roman Empire at all, but 
rather a continuation of the Frankish kingdom that Charlemagne 
had inherited. 

The unification of western Europe would have been highly 
significant if Charlemagne had indeed succeeded in accomplish- 
ing it. However, Charlemagne’s empire fell apart within thirty 
years after his death, and was never subsequently reunited. 

The present borders of France, Germany, and Italy have 
virtually nothing to do with either Charlemagne or Louis the 
Pious. The northern boundary of Italy largely follows the 

496 THE 100 

geographical boundary of the Alps. The Franco-German border 
roughly follows a linguistic boundary, which in turn roughly 
follows the northern boundary of the old Roman Empire. 

To give Charlemagne any substantial credit for the spread 
of Christianity seems quite unjustified to me. Christianity had 
been spreading northwards through Europe for centuries before 
Charlemagne’s reign, and continued to do so for centuries 
thereafter. Quite apart from the point that Charlemagne’s forced 
conversion of the Saxons was morally dreadful, it was also totally 
unnecessary. The Anglo-Saxons in England were converted to 
Christianity without being massacred, and in succeeding cen- 
turies, the various Scandinavian peoples were also converted by 
persuasion rather than by force. 

What about the notion that Charlemagne’s military vic- 
tories succeeded in safeguarding western Europe from external 
attack? Not so. During the entire ninth century, the northern 
and western coasts of Europe were subjected to a devastating 
series of attacks by the Vikings, or Norsemen. At the same time, 
Magyar horsemen invaded Europe from the East, and Moslem 
raiders harassed the continent in the south. It was one of the least 
secure periods in Europe’s history. 

The struggle for dominance between civil authorities and 
the Church was a persisting feature of European history, even in 
regions that were not part of the Carolingian Empire. Such a 
struggle, indeed, was inherent in the aspirations of the medieval 
Church, and would have occurred (though perhaps in slightly 
different form) without Charlemagne. His coronation in Rome 
was an interesting incident, but hardly a crucial causative factor 
in the overall struggle. 

I think that it would be difficult to convince an educated 
Chinese or Indian that Charlemagne should be considered nearly 
as important as such men as Shih Huang Ti, Genghis Khan, or 
Asoka. Indeed, if Charlemagne is compared with Sui Wen Ti, it 
seems fairly clear that the Chinese emperor was the more impor- 
tant of the two. The unification of China engineered by Sui Wen 
Ti has had a lasting effect, whereas Charlemagne’s unification of 
western Europe hardly endured for a generation. 

Charlemagne 497 

Although Charlemagne’s importance has been somewhat 
overrated by Europeans, his short-term influence was certainly 
large. He destroyed the Lombard and Avar states and conquered 
Saxony. Large numbers of people died in his wars. On the 
positive side, there was a brief cultural renaissance during his 
reign (which, however, ended quickly after his death). 

There were also various long-term consequences of his 
career. For centuries after Charlemagne, German emperors 
engaged in an ultimately futile struggle to control Italy. Without 
Charlemagne’s example, it is quite possible that they would have 
paid less attention to Italy and devoted more effort to expanding 
to the north or east. It is also true that the Holy Roman Empire, 
which Charlemagne started, managed to endure until the early 
nineteenth century. (For much of that time, however, the actual 
power of the Holy Roman Emperor was slight, and effective 
power in Germany was divided among innumerable small 

But Charlemagne’s most important achievement was pro- 
bably his subjugation of Saxony, which brought that important 
region into the mainstream of European civilization. That was 
an accomplishment similar to Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, 
though not quite as important, since Saxony is a substantially 
smaller region. 

The Treaty of 
Verdun set the 
borders of 
France and 



For many centuries, there have been disputes concerning the 
authorship of the Homeric poems. When, where, and how were 
the Iliad and the Odyssey composed? To what extent were they 
based on previous compositions? Were the Iliad and the Odyssey 
composed by the same person? Indeed, was either one composed 
by a single author? Perhaps there was no such individual as 
Homer, and the two poems developed by a process of slow accre- 
tion, or were assembled by editors from a group of poems of 
varying authorship. Scholars who have spent many years study- 
ing these questions do not agree with each other; how then can a 
person who is not a classical scholar know what the true answers 
are? Of course, I do not know the answers; nevertheless, in order 
to decide where (if anywhere) Homer belongs on this list, I have 
made the following assumptions: 

The first assumption is that there was indeed a single prin- 
cipal author of the Iliad. (It is simply too good to have been writ- 
ten by a committee!) In the centuries preceding Homer, many 
shorter poems on the same subject matter had been composed by 
other Greek poets, and Homer drew heavily on their work. But 
Homer did far more than merely assemble the Iliad from pre- 

Homer 499 

existing shorter poems. He selected, arranged, reworded, and 
added—all the while infusing the final result with his own 
unique artistic genius. Homer, the man who created this master- 
piece, most probably lived in the eighth century s.c., although 
many other dates, mostly earlier, have been suggested. I have 
also assumed that the same man was the principal author of the 
Odyssey. Although the argument (based in part on difference in 
style) that the two poems were composed by different authors has 
some force, on the whole the similarities between the two poems 
far outweigh their differences. 

From the foregoing, it is obvious that very little is known 
about Homer himself; indeed, there is no certain biographical 
data concerning him. There is a very strong and ancient tradi- 
tion, dating back to early Greek times, that Homer was blind. 
~ However, the striking visual imagery in the two poems suggests 
that if Homer was indeed a blind man, he was certainly not blind 
from birth. The language used in the poems strongly suggests 
that Homer came from Ionia, the region on the eastern side of 
the Aegean Sea. 

Although it seems difficult to believe that such lengthy and 
carefully constructed poems could have been composed without 
any writing, most scholars seem to agree that they were at least 
primarily, and perhaps completely, oral compositions. It is not 
certain when the poems were first reduced to writing. Consider- 
ing their length (in combination almost 28,000 verses), it seems 
rather unlikely that they could have been transmitted with 
reasonable accuracy unless they were written down not very long 
after their original composition. In any event, by the sixth cen- 
tury B.c., the two poems were already considered to be great 
classics, and the biographical information concerning Homer 
was already lost. Thereafter, the Greeks always considered the 
Odyssey and the Iliad to be the nation’s supreme literary master- 
pieces. Amazingly, through all the intervening centuries and all 
the changes of literary style that have occurred, Homer’s reputa- 
tion has never diminished. 

In view of Homer’s great fame and reputation, it is with 

500 THE 100 

some trepidation that I have accorded him so low a ranking on 
this list. I have done so in part for the same reason I have assigned 
most other literary and artistic figures relatively low places. In 
the case of Homer, the discrepancy between reputation and in- 
fluence seems to be particularly large. Though his works are fre- 
quently studied in school, in today’s world relatively few people 
read Homer after they have left high school or college. The con- 
trast with Shakespeare, whose plays and poems are read, and 
whose plays are frequently produced and well attended, is quite 

Nor is Homer widely quoted. Although Homeric quotations 
are to be found in Bartlett’s, few are used in everyday conversa- 
tion. Here again, there is a marked contrast with Shakespeare, 
and also with such authors as Benjamin Franklin and Omar 
Khayyam. A widely repeated phrase such as, “a penny saved is a 
penny earned,” may actually influence personal behavior and 
even political attitudes and decisions. There are no comparable 
lines in Homer that are widely quoted today. 

Why, then has Homer been included on this list at all? 
There are two reasons. The first reason is that the number of 
people—added up over the centuries—who have personally 
heard or read Homer’s poems is extremely large. In the ancient 
world, Homer’s poems were much more popular than they are 
now. In Greece, his works were familiar to the general popula- 
tion, and for a long time influenced religious and ethical at- 
titudes. The Odyssey and the Iliad were well-known, not merely 
by literary intellectuals, but by military and political leaders as 
well. Many ancient Roman leaders quoted Homer, and Alex- 
ander the Great carried a copy of the Iliad with him in his cam- 
paigns. Even today, Homer is the favorite author of some people, 
and most of us have read his works (at least in part) in school. 

Even more important, perhaps, has been Homer’s influence 
on literature. All the classical Greek poets and playwrights were 
deeply influenced by Homer. Such figures as Sophocles, 
Euripides, and Aristotle—to name just a few—were steeped in 
the Homeric tradition, and all had derived their notions of 
literary excellence from him. 


Homer 501 

Homer’s influence on ancient Roman authors was almost as 
great. All accepted his poetry as the standard of excellence. 
When Virgil—often considered the greatest of Roman authors— 
wrote his masterpiece, the Aeneid, he deliberately patterned it 
after the Iliad and the Odyssey. 

Even in modern times, virtually every writer of note has 
been affected either by Homer himself or by writers, such as 
Sophocles or Virgil, who were themselves powerfully influenced 
by Homer. No other author in history has had nearly such a 
widespread and long-continued influence. 

That last point is perhaps the crucial one. Over the course of 
the last one hundred years, it is quite possible that Tolstoy has 
been more widely read and more influential than Homer. But 
Tolstoy had no influence whatsoever during the preceding twenty- 
six centuries, whereas Homer's influence has continued for 2,700 
years or more. That is an awfully long time, and one not apt to be 
matched by many other literary figures, or, indeed, by figures in 
any field of human endeavor. 

An illustration by John Flaxman from Homer's Iliad, 
depicting the funeral of the great warrior Hector. 



= 4 = 
Y 2 
ai MS 

2 NR ORE Go SR HK GD x OB Hr os pa om eee 


JUSTINIAN I 483-565 

The Emperor Justinian is renowned for the great codification of 
Roman law that was carried out during his reign. The Code of 
Justinian preserved the product of Rome’s creative genius in 
jurisprudence, and it later formed the basis for the development 
of the law in many European countries. Probably no other code 
of laws has had so enduring an impact on the world. 

Justinian was born about 483, in Tauresium, in present-day 
Yugoslavia. He was the nephew of Justin I, a nearly illiterate 
Thracian peasant who had worked his way up through the army 
to become the ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire. Justinian, 
although likewise of peasant origin, received a good education 
and, with his uncle’s help, advanced rapidly. In 527, Justin, who 
was childless, made Justinian co-emperor with him. Later that 
year Justin died, and from then until his own death in 565, Justi- 
nian was sole emperor. | 

Justinian I 503 

In 476, just seven years before Justinian’s birth, the Western 
Roman Empire had finally succumbed to the onslaught of the 
barbarian Germanic tribes, and only the Eastern Roman Em- 
pire, with its capital in Constantinople, remained intact. Justi- 
nian was determined to reconquer the lost lands of the West and 
to restore the Roman Empire, and the better part of his energy 
while emperor was devoted to this end. In this project he was 
partly successful, since he did manage to recapture Italy, North 
Africa, and part of Spain from the barbarians. 

However, Justinian’s place on this list depends not so much 
on his military feats as upon his role in the codification of Roman 
law. As early as 528, the year after he took office, Justinian set up 
a commission to produce a code of imperial laws. Their work was 
first published in 529, then revised, and enacted into statute in 
534. At the same time, all prior edicts and statutes not included 
in the code were repealed. This Codex became the first portion of 
the Corpus Juris Civilis. The second portion, called the Pandects, 
or the Digest, was a summary of the views of prominent Roman 
legal writers. That, too, was authoritative. The third part, the 
Institutes, was basically a text or handbook for law students. 
Finally, those laws passed by Justinian after the adoption of 
the Codex were brought together into the Novellae, which was 
published after Justinian’s death. 

Of course Justinian himself, busy as he was with his various 
wars and administrative duties, could not personally draft the 
Corpus Juris Civilis. The codification which Justinian ordered 
was actually carried out by a group of legal scholars under the 
supervision of the great lawyer and legal expert Tribonian. 

Justinian, an exceedingly energetic man, also devoted a 
good deal of effort to administrative reforms, including a partly 
successful campaign against governmental corruption. He 
stimulated trade and industry, and engaged in a large public 
building program. Under him, many fortresses, monasteries, and 
churches (including the famous Hagia Sophia in Constantinople) 
were built or reconstructed. This building program and his wars 
resulted in a large increase in taxes, and considerable discontent. 


depicts the Emperor Justinian. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fletcher Fund, 1925 

In 532, there was a rebellion (the Nika riots) which nearly cost 
him his throne. After he suppressed that rebellion Justinian’s 
throne was generally secure. Still, at his death in 565, there was 
considerable popular rejoicing. | 

Justinian was greatly aided by his very able wife, Theodora, 
and a few words about her seem appropriate. Theodora was 
born about 500. In her youth, she was an actress and courtesan, 
and gave birth to an illegimate child. She was in her twenties 
when she met Justinian and became his mistress. They were mar- 
ried in 525, just two years before he assumed the imperial throne. 
Justinian recognized his wife’s outstanding capabilities, and she 
became his principal advisor and was entrusted with various 

Justinian I 505 

diplomatic duties. She had a considerable influence upon his 
legislation, including some laws passed to improve the rights and 
status of women. Her death in 548 (of cancer) was a grave loss to 
Justinian, although the remaining seventeen years of his reign 
were reasonably successful. Theodora, who was beautiful as well 
as brilliant, was the subject of many works of art. 

Justinian’s placement on this list is primarily due to the im- 
portance of the Corpus Juris Civilis, which constituted an 
authoritative restatement of Roman law. As such, it was impor- 
tant in the Byzantine Empire for centuries. In the West, it was 
largely forgotten for about five hundred years. About 1100, 
however, the study of Roman law was revived, particularly in 
the Italian universities. During the late Middle Ages, the Corpus 
Juris Civilis became the principal basis of the developing legal 
systems of Continental Europe. Countries where this occurred 
are said to have civil-law systems, as opposed to the common-law 
systems that generally prevail in English-speaking countries. The 
Corpus Juris Civilis was not adopted in toto anywhere. However, 
parts of it were incorporated into the. civil law, and throughout 
much of Europe, it became the basis for legal study, training, 
and discourse. Since many non-European countries eventually 
adopted parts of the civil law, the influence of the Corpus Juris 
Civilis has been remarkably wide. 

Despite this, it would be a mistake to overestimate the im- 
portance of the Justinian Code. There were other important in- 
fluences on the development of civil law besides the Corpus Juris 
Civilis. For example, the laws concerning contracts derived more 
from the practice of merchants and the decisions of merchants’ 
courts than from Roman law. Germanic law and Church law 
also influenced the civil law. In the modern era, of course, Euro- 
pean laws and legal systems have all been extensively revised. To- 
day, the substantive law in most civil law countries bears 
relatively little resemblance to the Code of Justinian. 

MAHAVIRBA «. 599 pc-c. 527 Be. 

Mahavira (which means “great hero”) is the name by which the 
Jains usually refer to Vardhamana, the leading figure in the 
development of their religion. 

Vardhamana was born in 599 B.c., in northeast India, the 
same general area in which Gautama Buddha was born, though 
a generation earlier. Indeed, the similarity of the life stories of 
the two men is truly amazing. Vardhamana was the younger son 
of a chief, and like Gautama was reared in considerable luxury. 
At the age of thirty, he abandoned his wealth, his family (he had 
a wife and daughter), and his comfortable surroundings, and 
decided to seek spiritual truth and fulfillment. 

Vardhamana became a monk in the small and very ascetic 
Parsvanatha order. For twelve years he engaged in deep medita- 
tion and reflection, all the while enduring the extremes of 
asceticism and poverty. He fasted frequently, and he retained no 
personal property of any sort, not even a small cup or dish with 
which to drink water or collect alms. Although at first he retain- 
ed one garment, after a while he discarded even that and walked 

Mahavira 507 

about completely naked. He would allow insects to crawl over 
his bare skin and would not brush them off, even when they bit 
him. Even in India, where itinerant holy men are more common 
than they are in the West, Mahavira’s appearance and behavior 
frequently aroused taunts, insults, and blows, all of which he en- 
dured without reprisal. 

When he was forty-two, Mahavira decided that he had 
finally attained spiritual enlightenment. He spent the remaining 
thirty years of his life preaching and teaching the spiritual in- 
sights that he had gained. When he died, in 527 B.c., he had 
many disciples. 

In some ways Mahavira’s doctrines are very similar to those 
of Buddhism and Hinduism. Jains believe that when a human 
being’s body dies, his soul does not die with it but is reincarnated 
in some other being (not necessarily human). This doctrine of 
transmigration of souls is one of the foundations of Jainist 
thought. Jains also believe in karma, the doctrine that the ethical 
consequences of an act affect one’s lot in a future existence. To 
remove the accumulated load of guilt from one’s soul, and there- 
by to purify it, is a primary goal of the Jainist religion. In part, 
Mahavira taught, this can be achieved by the denial of sensual 
pleasures. Jainist monks, in particular, are supposed to practice a 
rigorous asceticism. It is noteworthy that deliberately starving 
oneself to death is considered praiseworthy! 

A very important aspect of Jainism is the great stress it lays 
on the doctrine of ahisma, or nonviolence. Jains emphasize that 
ahisma includes nonviolent behavior to animals as well as to 
human beings. As one consequence of this belief, Jains are 
vegetarians. However, devout Jains carry the principle of ahisma 
to far greater extremes than that: a devout Jain, quite literally, 
will not kill a fly; nor will he eat in the dark, as he might acci- 
dentally swallow an insect, and thereby cause its death. Indeed, 
a sufficiently devout and well-to-do Jain will hire someone to 
sweep the street in front of him as he walks, so that he does not 
accidentally step on and kill an insect or worm! 

From such beliefs, it logically follows that a religious Jain 

508 THE 100 

cannot in good conscience plow a field. In fact, the Jains actually 
do not engage in agriculture. For that matter, many other oc- 
cupations involving manual labor are forbidden by their religion. 
Jainism provides a stiking example of how religious doctrines can 
drastically affect the entire manner of living of a whole com- 
munity. Although they dwell in a land that is overwhelmingly 
agricultural, the majority of Jains have been engaged in trade or 
finance for centuries. Jainist religious attitudes have also led 
them to prize industriousness. Consequently, it is not suprising 
that the Jains are a prosperous group, and that their participa- 
tion in Indian intellectual and artistic activities has been high in 
proportion to their numbers. 

Originally, Jainism had no caste system. However, through 
constant interaction with Hinduism, a caste system has 
developed within Jainism—though one far less extreme than that 
of the Hindus. Similarly, although Mahavira himself never spoke 
of a God or gods, through contact with Hinduism some worship 
of deities has arisen. Since there are no writings by Mahavira, 
some absorption of doctrines from Hinduism was probably in- 
evitable. There has, however, been considerable influence in the 
other direction as well. Jainist moral objections to animal 
sacrifice and to the eating of meat appear to have markedly af- 
fected Hindu practice. Furthermore, the Jainist doctrine of non- 
violence has been a continuing influence upon Indian thought, 
even down to modern times, For example, Gandhi was strongly 
influenced by the teachings of the Jainist philosopher Shrimad 
Rajachandra (1867-1900), whom he considered to be one of his 
gurus, or spiritual teachers. 

The Jains have never been a very numerous sect, and today 
there are only about 3,500,000 of them in all of India. That may 
not sound like a very large fraction of the world’s population; 
however, added up over a period of 2,500 years it comes to quite 
a large number of persons. In judging Mahavira’s importance, 
one should take into account that Jainism, perhaps even more 
than most other religions, has had a large and continuous effect 
upon the lives of its adherents. 


While this book was being written, many friends and associates of the 
author suggested the names of various historical figures who they felt 
might reasonably be included in the main section of the book. 

Quite a few of those suggestions were adopted; others, for one 
reason or another, were rejected. Below are the names of a hundred in- 
teresting figures who, the author finally concluded, do not belong 
among the 100 most influential persons in history—although, un- 
doubtedly, strong arguments can be made on behalf of a considerable 
number of these persons. 

On the succeeding pages are brief articles about ten of those 
figures, indicating the author’s reasons for omitting them from the top 
hundred. It should not be assumed that the author thinks that those ten 
(in some order) would be numbers 101-110 if the main list were extend- 
ed, or that the persons named below would be numbers 101-200. 



Howard H. Aiken 
Susan B. Anthony 
St. Thomas Aquinas 
Aristarchus of Samos 
Richard Arkwright 
Neil Armstrong 
Charles Babbage 
Antoine Henri Becquerel 
Jeremy Bentham 
Otto von Bismark 
Niels Bohr 

Louis de Broglie 
Nicolas Sadi Carnot 
Cheops (Khufu) 
Winston Churchill 
Karl von Clausewitz 
Rudolf Clausius 
Marie Curie 
Gottlieb Daimler 
Dante Alighieri 
King David 

Mary Baker Eddy 
Robert C. W. Ettinger 
George Fox 



Benjamin Franklin 
Frederick the Great 
Betty Friedan 
Mohandas K. Gandhi 
Karl Friedrich Gauss 
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 

Henry VIII 
Henry the Navigator 
Theodor Herzl 
Thomas Hobbes 
James Hutton 
Joan of Arc 
Immanuel Kant 
Kemal Ataturk 
John Maynard Keynes 
Har Gobind Khorana 
Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Alfred C. Kinsey 
Gustav Robert Kirchhoff 
Kublai Khan 
Gottfried Wilhelm von 
~ Leibniz 
Etienne Lenoir 
Leonardo da Vinci 
Abraham Lincoln 
Liu Pang (Han Kao Tsu) 
Louis XIV 
James Madison 
Ferdinand Magellan 
The Virgin Mary 
Meijo Tenno 

(Emperor Mutsuhito) 

THE 100 

Dmitri Mendeleev 


Maria Montessori 

Samuel Morse 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

Muawiya I 

Gerard K. O'Neill 

Blaise Pascal 

Ivan Pavlov 

Pablo Picasso 

Marco Polo 

Ptolemy (Claudius 


Ronald Reagan 


Franklin Delano Roosevelt 


Erwin Schrodinger 

William B. Shockley 

Joseph Smith 



Sun Yat-sen 

William Henry Fox Talbot 


Edward Teller 

Henry David Thoreau 

Charles H. Townes 

Harry S. Truman 

Alessandro Volta 

Selman A. Waksman 

James D. Watson & 
Francis Crick 

Robert A. Watson-Watt 

Mary Wollstonecraft 

Frank Lloyd Wright 

Boris Yeltsin 

Vladimir Zworykin 


c 1225-1274 

The Italian philosopher Thomas Aquinas is famous for his theological 
writings, and particularly for his Summa Theologica, which is perhaps 
the most authoritative statement of Catholic theological doctrines ever 

It is safe to say that no one has ever worked out a complete system 
of philosophy in such detail and with such careful consideration as 
Aquinas did. The reader, even if he disagrees with Aquinas’s assump- 
tions or conclusions, can hardly fail to be impressed by the overpower- 
ing intellect of the man. However, a considerable part of Aquinas’s 
writings concern abstract and metaphysical questions that most per- 
sons do not find of great practical importance. He discussed ethical 
questions also; however, his writings, though they systematized earlier 
Catholic beliefs, did not represent a great change in ethical ideas or in 
political outlook. Nor does it seem likely that many persons have been 
converted to Catholicism or Christianity by reading Aquinas’s works. 
Therefore, no matter how clever or correct Aquinas’s speculations may 
have been, I doubt that they have had much influence upon human 
behavior or upon the course of history. It is for that reason that he has 
been omitted from the main list in this book. 

287 B.c.-212 Buc. 

Archimedes is generally acknowledged to be one of the most brilliant 
mathematicians and scientists of the ancient world. He is sometimes 
credited with having discovered both the principle of the lever and the 
concept of specific gravity. 

512 THE 100 

In fact, however, the lever had been known and used for many 
centuries before Archimedes. He seems to have been the first to ex- 
plicitly state the formula describing the effect of the lever, but Egyp- 
tian engineers had made frequent and capable use of levers long before 

The concept of the density (weight per unit volume) of an object, 
as opposed to the total weight of the object, had likewise been known 
before Archimedes. In the famous story of Archimedes and the crown 
(the story that ends with him jumping out of his bath and running 
through the streets shouting “Eureka”), what Archimedes had 
discovered was not a new concept, but rather an ingenious application 
of a known concept to a specific problem. 

As a mathematician, Archimedes was undoubtedly outstanding. 
In fact, he came quite close to formulating integral calculus—more 
than eighteen centuries before Isaac Newton succeeded in doing so. 
Unfortunately, a convenient system of mathematical notation was 
lacking in Archimedes’ day. Equally unfortunately, none of his im- 
mediate successors was a truly first- rate mathematician. As a result, 
Archimedes’ brilliant mathematical insights turned out to have far less 
effect than they might have had. It therefore appears that although Ar- 
chimedes’ talents were indeed remarkable, his actual influence was not 
great enough to warrant including him among the first hundred names 
in this book. 

| Wie ee 8 el be oa a | 

The English inventor Charles Babbage worked out the principles 
behind the general-purpose digital computer a full century before the 
development of the large modern electronic calculating machines. A 
machine he designed, which he called the “analytical engine,” was 
capable in principle of doing everything that modern calculators can 
do (though not nearly as quickly, since the analytical engine was not 

Charles Babbage 513 

designed to operate electrically). Unfortunately, because nineteenth- 
century technology was not sufficiently advanced, Babbage was not 
able to complete the construction of the analytical engine, despite the 
expenditure of a large amount of time and money. After his death, his 
extremely ingenious ideas were nearly forgotten. 

In 1937, however, Babbage’s writings came to the attention of 
Howard H. Aiken, a graduate student at Harvard University. Aiken, 
who had himself been trying to design a computing machine, was 
greatly stimulated by Babbage’s ideas. With the collaboration of IBM, 
Aiken was able to construct the Mark I, the first large general-purpose 
computer. In 1946, two years after the Mark I went into operation, 
another group of engineers and inventors completed the ENIAC, the 
first electronic calculating machine. Since then, advances in computer 
technology have been extremely rapid. 

Since calculating machines have had such a great impact on the 
world already, and are likely to prove even more important in the 
future, I was tempted to include Charles Babbage in the main section 
of this book. After careful consideration, however, I concluded that 
Babbage’s contribution to the development of computers was not 
significantly greater than that of Aiken, or than that of John Mauchly 
and J. P. Eckert (who were the leading figures in the design of the 
ENIAC). For that matter, at least three of Babbage’s predecessors— 
Blaise Pascal, Gottfried Leibniz, and Joseph Marie Jacquard—made 
contributions that seem to have been comparable in importance to 
Babbage’s. Pascal, a French scientist, mathematician, and philoso- 
pher, invented a mechanical adding machine back in 1642. In 1671, 
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, philosopher and mathematician, 
devised a machine that could add, subtract, multiply, and divide. 
Leibniz was also the first to point out the importance of the binary 
system, a system of notation that is extensively employed in modern 
computing machines. Jacquard was a Frenchman who, in the early 
nineteenth century, invented a device that employed punched cards to 
control the operation of a loom. The Jacquard loom, which was very 
successful commercially, had a significant influence on Babbage’s 
thinking. It may also have influenced Herman Hollerith, an American 
who, in the late nineteenth century, adapted punched cards for use in 
Census Bureau tabulations. 

The principal credit for the development of the modern computer 
must, therefore, be divided among several men. Though each of 

514 THE 100 

the men mentioned here made a significant contribution, no one 
of them stands out clearly above the others. Neither Babbage, 
therefore, nor any of the others, seems quite worthy of inclusion 
in the main section of this book. 


fl. 26th c. B.c. 

The Egyptian king Khufu (Cheops is the Greek form of his name) is 
best remembered for his construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza, 
which was apparently built to be his tomb. His exact dates of birth and 
death are unknown, but it is believed that he flourished during the 
twenty-sixth century B.c. We know that his capital was at Memphis, in 
Egypt, and that he had a long reign, but little else is known of his life. 

It seems safe to say that the Great Pyramid is both the most 
celebrated and the most remarkable structure ever built by human be- 
ings. Even in ancient times it was regarded as one of the Seven 
Wonders of the World. Although the other six structures have long 
since fallen into ruin, the Great Pyramid remains, a striking memorial 
to the king who built it. 

The perfection of its construction, as well as its sheer size, are awe- 
inspiring. Although the top thirty feet of the Great Pyramid have been 
destroyed, it still stands 450 feet high—about the height of a thirty- 
five-story building! Roughly 2,300,000 blocks of stone, averaging 
about two and one-half tons apiece, were used in its construction. 
Because the Great Pyramid contains a set of internal chambers and 
passages, the stones used in building it had to be of varying sizes, ad- 
ding to the complexity of the construction task. 

Just how the ancient Egyptians, working some forty-six centuries 
ago, without any modern equipment or machinery, were able to con- 
struct this vast monument is unclear. Certainly, it required careful 
planning and superb administrative ability to successfully marshal the 
resources of the country for this gigantic task. If we accept the common 

Marie Curie 515 

estimate that it took twenty years to build the Great Pyramid, then we 
find that an average of more than 300 stone blocks were put in place 
each day. Clearly, in order to quarry that number of blocks, to 
transport them to the site of the pyramid, to cut them to the exact 
shape desired, and to accurately place them was an enormous task. A 
whole fleet of boats must have been needed to transport the blocks, and 
a well-planned supply system was needed to feed the army of workers 
engaged in the project. 

The Great Pyramid has already endured for over 4,500 years, and 
will probably still be standing long after every building constructed by 
modern engineers has crumbled to dust. It is virtually indestructible; 
not even a direct hit by an atomic bomb would obliterate it! Of course, 
it is slowly being worn away. However, at the present rate of erosion it 
will probably last for over a million years. 

It therefore seems plain that Cheops, a man who has truly left his 
mark on the world, has achieved an enduring fame, perhaps more so 
than any other person who has yet lived. (Will men like Napoleon or 
Alexander the Great be remembered at all, even ten thousand years 
from now?) But fame is very different from influence, and while 
Cheops probably had a great effect upon the lives of his contemporary 
Egyptians, he does not appear to have had much influence either upon 
foreign nations or succeeding ages. 



Marie Curie (original name: Maria Sklodowska) is much more famous 
than many of the scientists whom I have included in the first hundred 
persons on my list. It seems to me, however, that her great fame 
is based not so much upon the importance of the scientific work 
she did as upon the fact that a woman did it. Her career demon- 
strated, in the clearest possible fashion, that a female was capable 
of high-quality scientific research. For this reason she has become 

516 THE 100 

very celebrated, so much so that many persons have the impression 
that she was the person who discovered radioactivity. In fact, how- 
ever, radioactivity was discovered by Antoine Henri Becquerel. 
There is no question whatsoever of Becquerel’s priority, for it was 
not until after Marie Curie had read an account of Becquerel’s 
discovery that she (and her husband, Pierre, who was an equally 
talented scientist) commenced their investigations of the subject. 

Marie Curie’s most celebrated actual accomplishment was the 
discovery and isolation of the chemical element radium. Prior to that, 
she had discovered another radioactive element, which she named 
“polonium” after her native land, Poland. These are admirable 
achievements, but are not of major importance in scientific theory. 

In 1903, Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, and Antoine Henri Becquerel 
were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. In 1911, Marie Curie 
was awarded another Nobel Prize, this one in chemistry, making her 
the first person to win two Nobel Prizes. 

It is interesting to note that Marie Curie had young children at the 
time that her most important scientific research was accomplished. Her 
eldest daughter, Irene, also became a highly successful scientist. Irene 
married another talented scientist, Jean Frédéric Joliot, and the two of 
them, working together, discovered artificial radioactivity. For this 
discovery (which might be considered a “descendant” of the discovery 
of natural radioactivity!) the Joliot-Curies shared a Nobel Prize in 
1935. Marie Curie’s second daughter, Eve, became a noted musician 
and author. Quite a family! 

Madame Curie died in 1934 of leukemia, quite probably caused 
by repeated exposure to radioactive materials. 


I think it fair to say that Benjamin Franklin was the most versatile 
genius in all of history, with notable accomplishments in an even wider 

Benjamin Franklin 517 

range of fields than the renowned Leonardo da Vinci. It is astonishing, 
but true, that Franklin had highly successful careers in at least four 
quite separate areas of human endeavor: business, science, literature, 
and politics. 

Franklin’s business career was a classic rags-to-riches story. His 
family in Boston had not been well-to-do, and as a young man in 
Philadelphia, he was virtually penniless. By his early forties, however, 
Franklin had become a prosperous man through his printing shop, his 
newspaper, and his other business activities. Meanwhile, in his spare 
time, he studied science and taught himself four foreign languages! 

As a scientist, Franklin is best known for the basic research he per- 
formed concerning electricity and lighting. However, he also devised 
several highly useful inventions, including the Franklin stove, bifocal 
lenses, and the lightning rod. The latter two inventions are widely used 
even today. 

Franklin’s first literary efforts were as a successful journalist. Soon 
he was publishing Poor Richard’s Almanac, in which he demonstrated 
his unusual talent for turning a clever phrase. (Few writers have left 
behind so many well-remembered sayings.) In later years, he composed 
his autobiography, one of the most famous ever written, and one still 
widely read and enjoyed. 

In politics, Franklin was successful as an administrator (he was a 
postmaster general for the colonies, and under him the postal service 
showed a profit!); as a legislator (he was re-elected repeatedly to the 
Pennsylvania legislature); and as a diplomat (he was a very popular 
and successful ambassador to France during a crucial period in 
American history). In addition, he was one of the signers of the 
American Declaration of Independence, and later served as a member 
of the Constitutional Convention. 

Overlapping all these fields, to some extent, was Franklin’s fifth 
“career” as a public-spirited promoter and organizer. For example, he 
was one of the founders of the first hospital in Philadelphia. He helped 
to organize the first fire company in the colonies, and he pushed suc- 
cessfully for the formation of a municipal police department. He 
organized a circulating library (the colonies’ first) and a scientific 
_ society (still another first!). 

Like all of us, Franklin had troubles and grievous disappoint- 
ments. Nevertheless, his life stands out as a remarkable example— 
perhaps the most striking in history—of one well-spent. Blessed with 

518 THE 100 

good health for most of his eighty-four years, Franklin had a long, ex- 
citing, useful, varied, and generally happy sojourn on earth. 

In view of the foregoing, it was very tempting to include Franklin 
in the main section of this book. However, no one of his contributions 
seems nearly important enough for him to be considered one of the 
hundred most influential persons in history; nor in my opinion, do all 
of his achievements combined. 



Mohandas K. Gandhi was the outstanding leader of the movement for 
an independent India, and for that reason alone several people have 
suggested that he be included in the main section of this book. It should 
be remembered, though, that Indian independence from England was 
bound to come sooner or later; in fact, given the strength of the 
historical forces tending toward decolonization, we can today see that 
Indian independence would surely have been achieved within a few 
years of 1947 even had Gandhi never lived. 

It is true that Gandhi’s technique of nonviolent civil disobedience 
was ultimately successful in persuading the British to leave India. It 
has been suggested, however, that India might have gained in- 
dependence sooner if the Indians had adopted more forceful methods 
instead. Since it is hard to decide whether on the whole Gandhi speed- 
ed up or delayed Indian independence, we might reasonably conclude 
that the net effect of his actions was (at least in that respect) rather 
small. It might also be pointed out that Gandhi was not the founder of 
the movement for Indian independence (the Indian National Congress 
had been founded as early as 1885), nor was he the main political 
leader at the time independence was finally achieved. 

Still, it might be maintained that Gandhi's principal importance 

Abraham Lincoln 519 

lies in his advocacy of nonviolence. (His ideas, of course, were not en- 
tirely original: Gandhi specifically said that they were derived in part 
from his readings of Thoreau, Tolstoy, and the New Testament, as well 
as from various Hindu writings.) There is little doubt that Gandhi's 
policies, if universally adopted, would transform the world. Un- 
fortunately, they have not been generally accepted, even in India. 

It is true that in 1954-55 his techniques were used in an attempt to 
persuade the Portuguese to relinquish control of Goa. However, the 
campaign did not succeed in its goal, and a few years later, the Indian 
government launched an armed invasion. In addition, in the last 
forty years, India has fought three wars with Pakistan and a border 
war with China. Other countries have been equally reluctant to 
adopt Gandhi's techniques. In the roughly eighty years since he 
introduced those techniques, the world has seen the two bloodiest 
wars in all history. 

Must we therefore conclude that as a philosopher Gandhi was 
basically a failure? At the present time, it certainly seems that way; 
however, it is worth remembering that forty years after Jesus died 
an intelligent, well-informed Roman would doubtless have con- 
cluded that Jesus of Nazareth was a “failure’—if, indeed, he had 
heard of Jesus at all! Nor could anyone in 450 B.c. have predicted 
how influential Confucius would turn out to be. Still, judging from 
what has occurred so far, Gandhi seems entitled only to an honor- 
able mention in this book. 


Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, is one of 
the most famous and most admirable political leaders that this 
country—or any country—has ever produced. Why, then, has he not 
been included on my list? Was not the freeing of some 3,500,000 slaves 
a major accomplishment? 

Indeed it was. However, in retrospect we can see that the forces— 

520 THE 100 

throughout the world—working toward the abolition of slavery were 
irresistable. Many countries had abolished slavery even before Lincoln 
took office, and within sixty-five years of his death, most other coun- 
tries did so. The most that Lincoln can be credited with accomplishing 
is having hastened the process in one country. 

Still, it might be asserted that Lincoln’s chief accomplishment was 
in holding the United States together in the face of the secession of the 
southern states, and for that alone he deserves a place on this list. 

But it was the election of Lincoln that touched off the secession of 
the southern states. Nor is it clear that the North would have failed to 
win the Civil War if someone other than Lincoln had been President. 
After all, the North started the war with a great advantage in popula- 
tion, and an even greater one in industrial production. 

Even if the North had not prosecuted the Civil War to a successful 
conclusion, the overall course of history might not have been greatly 
altered. The bonds of language, religion, culture, and trade between 
the North and the South were very great, and it seems probable that 
they would eventually have reunited. If the period of disunity had 
lasted for twenty years—or even for fifty years—it would still be a 
minor incident in world history. (It should also be remembered that, 
even without the South, the United States would now be the fourth 
most populous nation on earth and the leading industrial power.) 

Does this mean that Lincoln was an unimportant figure? Not at 
all! His career profoundly influenced several million people for a 
generation. However, that still does not make him as important as a 
man such as Mahavira, whose influence has continued for many cen- 

c. 1480-1521 | 

The Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan is celebrated as the 
leader of the first expedition to circumnavigate the earth. 

Leonardo da Vinci 521 

His expedition was perhaps the most outstanding voyage of explor- 
ation in all human history. The complete trip took just under three 
years. Of the five small, clumsy, leaky vessels with which Magellan 
started out, only one returned to Europe safely; and of the 265 men 
who started the voyage, only eighteen came back alive! Magellan 
himself was one of those who died during the voyage (although not un- 
til after he had led the expedition over the most difficult part of the 
trip). But in the end, the expedition was successful, and it proved 
beyond any dispute that the earth was round. 

It is quite plain that the success of the expedition was principally 
due to Magellan’s leadership and to his iron determination. Much of 
the crew wished to turn back after a few months; indeed, Magellan 
had to suppress a mutiny in order to continue onward. His combina- 
tion of skill and perseverance entitle him to be considered the greatest 
of all navigators and explorers. 

The actual influence of his achievement, however, was compara- 
tively small. Educated Europeans already knew quite well that the 
earth was round. Nor did the route Magellan traveled become an im- 
portant trade route. Unlike the voyage of Vasco da Gama, Magellan’s 
trip did not have a major influence on either Europe or the East. 
Therefore, although his feat has rightly brought him undying fame, it 
does not make him one of the hundred most influential persons in 


Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 near Florence, Italy, and died in 
1519. The intervening centuries have not tarnished his reputation as 
perhaps the most brilliant universal genius that ever lived. If this were 
a list of outstanding persons, Leonardo would definitely be included 
among the first fifty names. However, his talent and reputation seem 
greatly in excess of his actual influence upon history. 

522 THE 100 

In his notebooks, Leonardo left behind sketches of many modern 
inventions, such as airplanes and submarines. While these notebooks 
attest to his brilliance and originality, they had virtually no influence 
upon the development of science. In the first place, Leonardo did not 
actually build models of those inventions. In the second place, 
although the ideas were very clever, it does not appear that the inven- 
tions would actually have worked. It is one thing to think of the idea of 
a submarine or airplane; it is another and very much harder thing to 
work out a precise, detailed, practical design and to construct a model 
which actually works. The great inventors are not those men who had 
brilliant ideas but failed to follow up on them; rather, they are those 
persons—like Thomas Edison, James Watt, or the Wright brothers— 
who had the mechanical aptitude and the patience to work out the 
details and to overcome the difficulties so as to construct something 
which was actually functional. Leonardo did not do that. 

Furthermore, even had his sketches included every detail 
necessary to make his inventions work, it still would have made little 
difference, for the inventions were buried in his notebooks, and these 
were not published until centuries after his death. By the time the 
notebooks (whose text, incidentally, is in mirror writing) were publish- 
ed, the ideas behind his inventions had already been independently 
discovered by others. We conclude that as a scientist and inventor, 
Leonardo was without significant influence. 

His eligibility for this list, therefore, depends primarily upon his 
artistic achievements. Leonardo was a first-rate artist, though no more 
outstanding than such men as Rembrandt, Raphael, Van Gogh, or El 
Greco. With regard to his effect on later artistic developments, he was 
far less influential than either Picasso or Michelangelo. 

Leonardo had a regrettable habit of starting ambitious projects 
and never completing them. As a result, his output of completed pain- 
tings was very much smaller than that of the other men just mentioned. 
By frequently shifting to a new project before completing an old one, 
Leonardo succeeded in frittering away a considerable portion of his ex- 
traordinary talents. Although it may seem odd to refer to the man who 
painted the Mona Lisa as an underachiever, that seems to be the con- 
clusion of most persons who have carefully studied his career. 

It is possible that Leonardo da Vinci was the most talented person 
who ever lived, but his enduring accomplishments were comparatively 
few. Although a renowned architect, he does not seem to have ever 

Leonardo da Vinci 523 

designed a building that was actually constructed. Nor does a single 
sculpture made by him survive today. All that remains of his pro- 
digious talents are a considerable number of drawings, a few magnifi- 
cent paintings (fewer than twenty survive), and a set of notebooks 
which make twentieth-century readers marvel at his genius, but which 
had little if any influence upon science or invention. Talented as he 
was, Leonardo was not one of the hundred most influential persons 
who have ever lived. 



Since the men and women in this book have had such a tremen- 
dous effect on the world we live in, it might be interesting to ex- 
amine some characteristics of the group as a whole. 

The first thing that we notice is that a large majority of 
them come from Europe. (A statistical breakdown of their places 
of origin can be found in Table A.) From that table, it appears 
that the British have made a greater contribution to human civil- 
ization than have the people of any other region or nation. It is 
interesting to note that, of the eighteen British on this list, no 
fewer than five came from Scotland. (All five, in fact, are in the 
top half of this list.) Since the Scots constitute only about one- 
eighth of one percent of the world’s population, this represents a 
truly astonishing concentration of talent and achievement. 

As can be seen from Table B, the persons on this list are not 
distributed uniformly throughout recorded history. On the con- 
trary, an unusually large number of them flourished during the 
sixth to third centuries B.c. After that, there was a long period of 
quiescence. However, starting in the fifteenth century, condi- 
tions were again ripe for progress—or at least for change—and 
succeeding centuries have supplied an increasing number of 
names to this list. (It is still too early, of course, to tell whether 
our own century will ultimately make as many outstanding con- 
tributions as the nineteenth century did.) 

History books often devote most of their space to a discus- 
sion of political events. In my opinion, however, scientific ad- 
vances have done far more to shape the world we live in, and it is 

Some Final Comments 525 

therefore no accident that there are more scientists and inventors 
on this list than there are political or military leaders. Table C 
shows how many people in this book were involved in each of the 
major categories of human endeavor. 

Since quite a few of the religious leaders have been ranked 
near the top of my list, Table C (which merely considers the 
number of persons in each category and ignores their positions on 
the list) somewhat underrates the importance of religion in 
human affairs. Conversely, Table C somewhat overestimates the 
importance of political events, since the majority of the political 
figures in this book are on the lower half of the list. 

It is interesting to note that at least nineteen of the people on 
this list never married. (Since data is not available on everybody, 
the actual figure may be slightly higher.) That is a surprisingly 
high figure for a group whose members seem to have been, for 
the most part, more prosperous and healthy than the general 

Even of those who married, not all had offspring. At least 
twenty-six persons on this list appear to have had no children. In 
addition, there are several persons who had children, but whose 
line is known to have died out within a generation or two. 
Though information is not available in every instance—and 
though the possibility of illegitimate offspring can never be 
excluded— it appears likely that only about half the people in this 
book have any living descendants. 

All of the people on this list, of course, were highly in- 
telligent, and the majority of them were well educated. Only 
seven of them were illiterate, most of those achieving their fame 
as military leaders. 

Finally, we might mention the curious fact that at least ten 
of the persons on this list suffered from gout, a figure enormously 
out of proportion to the incidence of the disease in the general 
population. The high frequency of gout among great men has 
aroused the interest of medical researchers. 



The People in This Book: 
Where Did They Come From? 



Great Britain .................cccceccccccccucsscccecees 18 
Germany &-Avistria. fii soviet eietpaceeeiens 15 
PATI CC co tera ac once eee ene oe cet aae ie 9 
MEAL eee cairat cadences hades bah ataonie aR aides anon 8 \ TOTAL EUROPE 
CSCC CG se Ga oh le io ea Neto 5 69 
S Pal. cca caa tira ep erate eka ne consuls aebancane? 3 
PUSS ae aie ceiile Aine es ordst he ediicetya tales a eels 4 
Other Burope: 2sisa lace ete ew 7 
United: States osc cece hehe Hadinindie ciclek chodteea eke 8 
South America .............cccccccccceccccccecsccuceees 1 
New Zealand ..............cccccccccccseccccacceceeaneece 1 
PICA oe chet e 8 Siete le bites eed Yaa lnddcnestoeanieas 3 
Cau tee oes eh ak ein be rags avo hoe ees 7 
RVG A psec eis Bo torte edad eG Bo By Sa cde SK 3 ( TOTAL ASIA 
MONG ain. cae lies tue wate Pe ERR aes ] 18 
Western’ Asia.o., os fa) estan wk Be eae ee eee 7 

ROU A ace kod pi Ode Se ll eet aadhts tee 100 

NOTE: Euclid, Homer, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great have all 
been included in the total for Greece. Stalin has been included 
in the total for Russia. Alexander Graham Bell has been in- 
cluded in the total for Great Britain, where he was born and 
raised, rather than in the total for the United States. 


930 THE 100 


The People in this Book: When Did They Flourish? 


Belore 600 BC oc sigs So eee ewe eee ws 3 
GUO Be 220T BiG: Meee haset aaa ete 13 
200 BC 1400 A Oo 23-35 pale oe ntteaeap eye wars 16 
[Oth CCHIT: so ae one eee eee eed eaten 4 
LGU, CONWUEY. ai tecehot te secidaa savenerbinteloniaeiaevedes 9 
L(t COMUUEY 2tedie de otsadtnse iinet nd dennanainets Qo 

j Hed vtmrerc 91 a1 ch deuce en Rt ter rao Re ere nara crete en CET seme 12 

WOE CONEUEY: 2.582% ba tisvisnde Mei nagieaeee: 18 
20th Century ois cas sea ved da Uh cewldteenteadead 16 
TO ALG: (56 6.3.90 853) Se vane SS cers Gel G a ek 100 

NOTE: Jefferson has been counted as an eighteenth-century figure; 
Planck as a nineteenth-century figure; Marconi and Freud as 
twentieth-century figures. 

Appendix 531 


The People in this Book: What Did They Do? 


Scientists & Inventors ........... 0. ccc cece scenes 36 
Political & Military Leaders ...................005. 31 
Secular Philosophers .....................00cceeea cues 14 
Religious Leaders .................cccecceceeeeneee sees 1] 
Artistic & Literary Figures ....................00605. ) 
EXPIOLETS  agsicive trade yates ik ea edsaeae LE eee 2 
Tridlistrialists-2..cccheitsave.cG ee vans Bae ness ] 

TOTAL. 2.0 be, bang dew ee ee ee 100 

NOTE: Pizarro and Cortés have been counted as military leaders 
rather than as explorers. Freud has been counted as a scientist 
rather than as a philosopher. Confucius, Lao Tzu, Descartes, 
and Aristotle have been counted as secular philosophers. 


American Telephone and Telegraph, 224 

American Fabrics and Fashions Magazine, 29 

Arthur Goodfriend, What Can a Man Believe, Farrar, Straus & Young, 
1952, 363, 401 

British Broadcasting Corporation, 276 

Culver Pictures, 286 

Ford Motor Company, 450, 459, 558 

French Embassy Press and Information Service, 253 

George Eastman House, 243 

Philipp Giegel, 35 

John Hancock Insurance Company, 198 

Information Service of India, 506 

John F. Kennedy Archive, 399 

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1925, 504 

National Library of Medicine, 195 

Novosti Press Agency, 455, 475, 480 

Philadelphia Museum of Art. Given by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 
107, 110 

Potter and Brumfield Division of American Machine Foundry, Inc., 121 

Rand Corporation, 248 

The Royal Institution, 118 

Smithsonian Institution, 301 

~ Wide World, 52, 59, 205, 225, 236, 291, 377, 403 

Every effort has been made to locate the copyright owners of all the 
pictures listed above. If due acknowledgment has not been made, we 
sincerely regret the omission and request forgiveness. 



Page numbers in italics refer to illustrations. 

Aachen, Germany, 491, 494 

Abbasid Caliphs, 411 

Abbott, Gilbert, 197, 199 

Abbé Siéyes, 182 

Abraham, 509 

Absolutism, royal, 220; and social 
contract, 230 

Abu Bakr, 5, 261, 264 

Academy, of Plato, 71, 214 

Academy of Dijon, 385 

Academy of Sciences (Berlin), 383 

Academy of Sciences (Paris), 193 

Academy of Sciences (St. 
Petersburg), 383 

Achaemenids, 435 

Acoustics, 16 

Actium, battle of, 93 

Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, 

Adams, John, 317 

Adler, Alfred, 349 

Adultery, in Shakespeare, 165 

Advancement of Learning, The 
(Bacon), 453 

Aeneid, The, 501 

Aesop, 509 

Afghanistan, 24, 145, 176, 180, 478 

Africa, 8, 424, 425, 426, 431. See 
also individual names and places 

Afterlife, 28 

Age, 452 

Agnostics, 80 

Agriculture, 447, 508; and 
collectivisation, 330 

Ahisma, 507 

Ahura Mazda, 465. See also 
Zoroaster; Zoroastrianism 

Aiken, Howard H., 509, 513 

Air, 103, 104, 173 

Airplane, 132, 139-40 

Ajaccio, Corsica, 181 

Akkadians, 435 

Alaric, 270 

Albigensians, 411 

Albuquerque, Alfonso de, 213 

Aldrin, Edwin, 400 

Alexander the Great, 71, 74, 97, 130, 
132, 146-47, 174-80, 174, 179, 185, 
186, 212, 247, 418, 435, 465, 500 

Alexandria, Egypt, 75, 180 

Alexis, Czar, 439 

Algebra, 76 

Algeria, 268 

Alighieri, Dante, 509 

All’s Well That Ends Well 
(Shakespeare), 165 

Almagro, Diego de, 305 

Almeida, Francisco de, 431 

Alpha rays, 278 

America. See United States of 

American government, and 
penicillin, 226 

American Revolution. See 

American Telephone and Telegraph 
Company, 223 

Americas, discovery of, 47-51 

Ambition, kinds of, 454 

Ampére, André Marie, 116 

Anaerobiosis, 63 

Anatomical Treatise on the 
Movement of the Heart and Blood 
in Animals, An (Harvey), 273 

Ancestor worship, 28 

Ancien régime, 186 

Andagoya, Pascual de, 303-8 

Andropov, Yuri, 476, 478 


Anesthesia, 195-200 

Anglo-Saxons, and Norman 
Conquest, 343-45 

Angra Mainyu, 465 

Angular momentum, conservation 
of, 16 

Anode, L17 

Anthrax, 61-62 

Anthropology, 85, 86 

Antibiotics, 225-27 

Anti-semitism, 108, 210, 378, 460; 
Locke on, 229; and Luther, 127; 
roots of, 108 

Antiseptics, 61, 199-200, 226, 294-96 

Anthony, Susan B., 509 

Antony, Mark, 93 

Anxiety, 349 

Apollo Space Program, 400 

Aquinas, St. Thomas, 35, 73, 270, 
509, 511 

Arabia, 3-4 

Arabian Sea, 425 

Arabs, 37, 40, 73, 178, 466; and 
Muhammed, 3-10; and “Umar, 
262, 264-65, 263-264 

Aragon, 322-23 

Arbela, 176 

Arcetri, Italy, 67 

Archimedes, 509, 511-12 

Architecture, 257 

Argentina, 245 

Aristarchus of Samos, 100, 102, 509 

Aristotle, 12, 19, 50, 64, 69, 70-74, 
70, 72, 171, 175, 178, 214, 216, 
274, 398, 453, 500 

Arius, 109 

Arkwright, Richard, 509 

Armies, reliability of, 391. See also 
individual names and subjects; 
Battles; Leaders; War 

Arms race, 334, 478 

Armstrong, Neil, 400, 509 

Arouet, Francois Marie. See Voltaire 

Arquebuses, 307 

Arsaces I, 435 

Arthritis, 227 

Artists, impact of, 152-53 

Art of War, The (Machiavelli), 391 

Arts, 254, 386; societal impact of, 
152-55, 235, 257 

Asceticism, 23, 465, 506, 507 

Asia, 24. See also individual names 
and subjects 


Asia Minor, 32, 176 

Asoka, 24, 266-67, 496 

Assassination, 90, 93; of Bolivar, 
246; and Czar, 414; of Darius III, 
176; of Julius Caesar, 338; of 
Kirov, 329; of Pizarro, 305; of 
‘Umar, 264 

Assembly line, 457-59 

Assyrians, 435 

Astrology, 251 

Astronomia nova (Kepler), 374 

Astronomy, 121, 238, 382; and 
heliocentrism, 100-2; impact of, 
102; and Newton's laws, 14; and 
planetary motion, 374-76; and 
telescope, 66-67 

Astyages, 433 

Atahualpa, 304-5 

Athanasius, 109 

Atheists, 229 

Atmosphere, 173 

Atomic bomb, 54, 56, 379, 380 

Atomic theory, 171-73 

Atomic weights, 173 

Atoms, in quantum mechanics, 
230-39; and radioactivity, 278-79; 
structure of, 279-80. See also 
Physics; Quantum theory 

Augustan Age, 97 

Augustine, 35 

Augustus Caesar, 91, 92-98, 92, 98, 
132, 212 

Austerlitz, battle of, 184 

Australia, 221 

Austria, 184, 185, 205, 206, 209, 
232, 348 

Automobile, invention of, 298-302: 
mass production of, 456-60 

Avars, 492, 497 

Averroes, 73 

Avoidance, rule of, 42 

Axioms, 76 

Azoz, Turkey, 44] 

Aztecs, 310-14 

Babbage, Charles, 509, 512-13 

Baber, 146 

Babylonia, 80, 176, 432-34 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 235, 
359-62, 359 

Bacon, Francis, 12, 163, 250, 252, 
253, 368, 371, 450-55, 450, 455 

Bacteria, 61, 194; and penicillin, 

Baghdad, 37 

Bahram I, 410 

Balboa, Vasco Nunez de, 303 

Balkans, 96 

- Baltic Sea, 44] 

Baltimore College of Dental 
Surgery, 196 

Bamboo, 37 

Bank of France, 182 

Barbarians, 503 

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 500 

Basel, Switzerland, 282, 383 

Basel, University of, 383 

Bateson, William, 287 

Battles, Actium, 93; Austerlitz, 184, 
Boyaca, 245; Britain, 207; E] 
Alamein, 207; Hastings, 343-47, 
345, 347; Leipzig, 185; Marston 
Moor, 214, 218; Milvian Ridge, 
108; Narva, 441; Naseby, 218; 
Nehavend, 5, 264; Poltava, 441; 
Qadisiya, 5, 264; Stalingrad, 207; 
Stamford Bridge, 343; Tours, 5, 
491; Trafalgar, 184; Yarmuk, 264 

Batu, 146 

Beagle Channel, 86 

Beau de Rochas, Alphonse, 300 

Becquerel, Antoine Henri, 278, 356, 
358, 509, 516 

Bedouin Tribesmen, 4-5 

Beethoven, Ludwig Van, 232-35, 
232, 234, 360, 361, 362 

Belgium, 134, 207 

Bell, Alexander Graham, 19], 204, 
222-24, 229, 224 

Bentham, Jeremy, 509 . 

Benz, Karl, 297-98, 301-2, 456 

Benzene, 117 

Berkeley, England, 352, 354 

Berlin, University of, 58, 133, 29] 

Berlin Wall, 481-82 

Berlioz, Louis Hector, 234 

Berthollet, 104 

Beta rays, 278, 378 

Bible, translation of, 124. See also 
Jesus Christ; New Testament; Old 
Testament; St. Paul 

Bill for the More General Diffusion 
of Knowledge, 316 

Bill of Rights, 320 

Binary system, 513 



Binomial theorem, 16 

Biology, 273-76, 397; and microbes 
discovery, 193-94; and microscope 
development, 192-93, 194; and 
oral contraceptive, 403-7. See also 
individual names and subjects 

Bismarck, Otto von, 509 

Bitumen of Judea, 242 

Black, Joseph, 103 

Black body radiation, 292 

Black holes, 78 

Block printing, 39, 42-43 

Blood, circulation of, 273-75 

Blood poisoning, 227 

Boccaccio, Giovanni, 160 

Bogomils, 411 

Bohr, Niels, 238, 239, 279-80, 293, 

Boleyn, Anne, 469 

Bolivar, Simon, 210, 244-46, 244, 

Bolivia, 244, 245, 307 

Bologna, Italy, 201 

Bologna, University of, 89 

Bolsheviks, 415 

Bone infections, 227 

Bonn, Germany, 232 

Bonn, University of, 133 

Book burnings, 29, 89 

Books, 38-39; Astronomia nova 
(Kepler), 374; Candide (Voltaire), 
372; Causes and Effects of 
Variolae Vaccinae (Jenner), 354; 
and Catholic Index, 252; City of 
God (St. Augustine), 269, 27]; 
Confessions (St. Augustine), 269, 
270; Conquest of Fertility 
(Pincus), 407; cost of, 38; De bello 
Gallico (Caesar), 339; 
Development of Capitalism in 
Russia (Lenin), 415; Discourse on 
Method (Descartes), 249-50, 
Domesdary Book, 344; Essay on 
Human Understanding (Locke), 
229; Essay on Manners and Spirit 
of Nations (Voltaire), 371; Essay 
on the Principle of Population 
(Malthus), 397; Essays (Bacon), 
452; Institute of the Christian 
Religion (Calvin), 282; 
Interpretation of Dreams (Freud), 
349; Letters on the English 
(Voltaire), 368-69; Meditations 

536 Index 

(Descartes), 252; Mencius 
(Mencius), 461; New Atlantis 
(Bacon), 453, 455; Notes on the 
State of Virginia (Jefferson), 316; 
Novum organum (Bacon), 453, 
455, On the Movement of the 
Heart and Blood (Harvey), 273; 
On the Generation of Animals 
(Harvey), 275-76; Prince, The 
(Machiavelli), 391; Principles of 
Philosophy (Descartes), 252: 
Principle of Population (Malthus), 
395, 397; printing of, 42-43; Rules 
for the Direction of the Mind 
(Descartes), 249; Social Contract 
(Rousseau), 386, 389; Studies in 
Hysteria (Freud), 349; Summa 
Theologica (Aquinas), 511; Tao Te 
Ching (Lao), 363, 366; Two 
Treatises of Government (Locke), 

Borgia, Cesare 394 

Boston, Massachusetts, 197, 222 

Botany, and heredity, 287-90 

Boulton, Matthew, 112 

Boyaca, battle of, 245 

Boyle, Robert, 228 

Brahe, Tycho, 100, 370 

Braunau, Austria, 205 

Brazil, 425, 426 . 

Breast feeding, 389 

Breuer, Josef, 348 

Brezhnev, Leonid, 476, 478 

British Empire, 473-74, and 
Norman Conquest, 347. See also 
England; Great Britain 

British government, and penicillin, 

British Royal Society, 118 

Brittany, 342 

Broglie, Louis de, 239, 509 

Bronchitis, 227 

Brookline, Massachusetts, 399 

Brownian Movement, 58 

Brozik, Vacslav, 48 

Brunn Modern School, 287 

Brunn Natural History Society, 287 

Brussels, Belgium, 134 

Buchenwald, 209 

Buddha, Gautama, 22-26, 408 

Buddhism, 126, 366; spread of, 267 

Building program, 503 

Bulgaria, 480, 482 

Burbage Richard, 160 
Burma, 24 
Byzantine Empire, 109, 264, 505 

Cabral, Pedro Alvares, 42 

Caesar, Gaius Julius, 336-40, 336 

Caius College, 276 

Calculus, 382-83, 512 

Calendar, Julian, 338 

Calicut, India, 425-26 

Caligula, 97, 208 

Calvin, John, 35, 270, 272, 281-85, 
281, 284 

Cambodia, 419 

Cambridge University, ll, 82, 122, 
164, 276, 278, 397 

Cambyses II, 434 

Camera obscura, 241, 242 

Canada, 221 

Canary Islands, 48 

Candide (Voltaire), 372 

Canterbury College, 277 

Cape of Good Hope, 424-26 

Cape Verde Islands, 424 

Capillaries, 274 

Capitalism, and Calvin, 284-85. See 
also Communism; Lenin; Marx, 
Karl; Stalin, Josef 

Caprese, Italy, 254 

Caracas, Venezuela, 244 

Carbolic acid, 295 

Carbon dioxide, 103 

Carburetor, 299 

Cardano, Girolama, 241 

Carloman, 491 

Carnot, Nicolas Sadi, 509 

Carolingian dynasty, 422-23, 491 

Carthage, 178 

Caster, 508 

Castile, 322-23 

Castration complex, 349 

Catholic Church. See Roman 
Catholic Church 

Cathari, 411 

Catherine, Czarina, 444 

Cathode, 117 

Cathode rays, 355-56 

Cattle, 61-62 

Cavendish Laboratory, 278 

Ceausescu, Nicolae, 483 

Cecil, Anne, 164, 165 

Cecil, William, 164, 472 


Celibacy, 125, 465 

Censorship, 89 

Centennial Exposition, 223 

Central Asia, 8, 24, 145, 146, 176, 
180, 410 

Centrifugal governor, 112 

Ceylon, 24 

Chagas’s disease, 84 

Chain, Ernst Boris, 226, 227 

Chambers, Whittaker, 487 

Chandragupta Maurya, 266 

Chang, Min-Chueh, 405, 407 

Channte, Octave, 139 

Charlemagne, 247, 491-97, 491, 422-23 

Charles I (England), 218, 275, 472 

Charles IJ (England), 220, 229 

Charles V (Spain), 304, 306, 325 

Charles the Great. See Charlemagne 

Charles's law, 173 

Charlton, Massachusetts, 196 

Charot, Jean, 348 

Chatillon-sur-Marne, France, 259 

Chaucer, 152 

Cheops, 509, 514-15 

Chemical compounds, 171 

Chemistry, 238; and atomic 
hypothesis, 170-73; and elements, 
103-4; and nomenclature, 105 

Cheng, 88 

Chernenko, Constantin, 476, 478 

Chiang Kai-shek, 446 

Chicago, University of, 379, 380 

Chicken cholera, 63 

Children, rearing of, 214 

Chile, 245, 307 

Ch'in, China, 88 

China, 24, 27-30, 36-40, 42, 46, 48, 
363-66, 411, 420-23, 461, 496; and 
communism, 445-50; mathematics 
in, 77; and Mongols, 145-46; and 
scientific progress, 76-77 

Ch’in dynasty, 28-29, 90, 145, 420 

Ch’ing dynasty, 445 

Ch'in Shih Huang Ti, 87-91 

Cholera, 63 

Chopin, Frederic, 360 

Chou dynasty, 28, 87-88, 461 

Christianity, 8-9, 17-21, 25, 467; and 
Cortes, 312; and Moses, 79-80; 
and St. Augustine, 268-72; spread 
of, 31-35, 107-10, 496. See also 
individual names and subjects; 
Church; Jesus Christ 


Christians, and evolution, 85; 
number of, 24. See also 

Christina, Queen (Sweden), 252 

Chuang Tzu, 365 

Church, and science, 100; and state, 

Churchill, Winston, 509 

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, 108 

Church of the Nativity, 108 

Cilicia, 31 

Cinematography, 241 

Cirey, France, 369 

City of God (St. Augustine), 269, 

Civilization, advances in, 38-39; rise 
of, 435 

Civil law, and Justinian, 502-5 

Civil liberties, 389; Locke on, 230; 
and Nazis, 206 

Civil service, 29, 421, 440 

Civil War, American, 520; English, 

Classical music, 232-35, 359-62 

Clausewitz, Karl von, 509 

Clausius, Rudolf, 509 

Cleopatra, 93, 339 

Clergy, 216; and celibacy, 125 

Clermont, France, 259 

Code of Justinian, 502 

Code Napoleon, 183-84 

Codex, 503 

Cold War, 332, 334-35; end of, 


Colleges. See individual college or 

Cologne, Germany, 134 

Colombia, 244, 245, 246 

Coloni, 109 

Colonies, East African, 426 431 

Color blindness, 173 

Colton, Frank B., 406-7 

Columbia University, 378, 379 

Columbus, Christopher, 47-51, 47, 
48, 51, 312-13, 325, 430-31 

Combustion, 104 

Commonwealth of England, 218 

Communication, wireless, 201-4 

Communism, 134-37, 212, 389, 
328-35, 414-19, 445-50; collapse 
of, 475-87; and Confucianism, 30; 
and leadership, 210; and Shi 
Huang Ti, 91 


Communist Manifesto (Marx and 
Engels), 134 

Compass, 39 

Complex numbers, theory of, 382-83 

Composer: Bach, 235, 359-62; 
Beethoven, 232-35; impact of, 153 

Computer, 512-14 

Concentration camps, 208, 209 

Condensing chamber, 112 

Confessions (Rousseau), 386 

Confessions (St. Augustine), 269, 

Confucianism, 27-30, 90, 91, 126, 
366; scope of, 

Confucius, 20, 26-30, 88, 365-65, 
461, 462 

Congress of Spanish American 
States, 246 

Connecticut, 146 

Conquest of Fertility, The (Pincus), 

Conservation, 462 

Conservation of mass, 105 

Constantine the Great, 107-10, 107, 

Constantinople, 109, 503 

Constantius, 107-8 

Constitution, American, 131, 317; 
English, 219; French, 182 

Constitutional Convention, 216 

Constitutional democracy, and 
Locke, 228-31 

Consulate, of France, 182 

Contraceptives, 396-97, 398; moral, 

Copenhagen, Denmark, 238 

Copernicus, Nicolaus, 66, 67, 77, 
99-102, 99, 249, 373, 375, 454 

Cormeilles, France, 240 

Cornell University, 407 

Corpus Juris Civilis, 503, 505 

Correns, Carl, 287, 290 

Corsica, 181 

Cortes, Hernando, 303-8, 309-14, 
309, 313 

Coulomb, Charles Augustine de, 116 

Council of Nicaea, 109 

Council of People’s Deputies, 479 

Council of State, 218 

Counter, for steam engine, 112 

Coup d'etat, 182; in Soviet Union, 

Counterpoint, 361 

Cowpox, 352-53 

Cracow, University of, 99 

Crick, Francis, 510 

Croesus, 433 

Cromwell, Oliver, 217-21, 217, 221 

Cromwell, Richard, 220 

Crusades, 258, 259-60 

Cuba, 309 

Cugnot, Nicolas Joseph, 297 

Cultural Revolution, 447-48 

Curie, Irene, 516 

Curie, Marie, 278, 509, 515-16 

Curie, Pierre, 278, 516 

Cymberline, 164, 165 

Cyrus the Great, 432-38, 432, 465 

Czars, 415, 439-44 

Czechoslovakia, 206-7, 286-90, 480, 
482, 483 

d’Albans, Marquis de Jouffrey, 113 

Da Cortona, Pietro, 110 

Da Gama, Vasco, 424-31, 424 

Daguerre, Louis Jacques Mandé, 
940-43, 240 

Daguerrotype, 241 

Daimler, Gottlieb, 297-98, 300-2, 
456, 509 

d'Alembert, Jean, 386, 388, 455 

Dalton, John, 170-73, 170 

Damascus, 264 

Darius III, 176 

Darwin, Charles, 58, 82, 82-86, 210, 
397, 398 

Darwin, Erasmus, 84-85 

Das Kapital (Marx), 134 

David, 255 

David, King, 509 

da Vinci, Leonardo, 255, 510, 517, 

Davis, John, 471 

Davy, Sir Humphrey, 16 

Dayton, Ohio, 139 

Deafness, 222, 233 

Death wish, 350 

De bello Gallico (Caesar), 339 

Decimal system, 316 

Declaration of Independence, 315, 

Declaration of Rights of Man, 231 

Deductive logic, 453 

Defense mechanisms, 349 

Definite proportions, law of, 172 

Delft, Netherlands, 192, 193 

Democracy, 212; and Calvin, 284; 
and English Parliament, 217-21; 
and Norman Conquest, 346-47; 
philosophical tenets of, 228-31, 
and South America, 246; and 
Voltaire, 370 

Democratic party, 317 

Democratic-Republican party, 317 

Democritus, 170, 171, 509 

de Morveau, Guyton, 104 

de Narvaez, Panfilo, 310 

Deng Xiaoping, 446, 447 

Denmark, 207, 238, 441 

Dentistry, 196, 197, 198, 357, 357 

De rerum natura, 170 

Descartes, René, 12, 248-53, 248 

Desiderata, 492 

Deuteronomy, 80 

Development of Capitalism in 
Russia, The (Lenin), 415 

de Vere, Edward, 163-69, 471. See 
also Shakespeare, William 

Devin du village, Le, 386 

de Vries, Hugo, 287, 290 

Dharma, 267 

Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief 
World Systems (Galileo), 67 

Diaphragm, and contraception, 404 

Dias, Bartolomeu, 424, 431 

Dictating machine, 189 

Dictatorship of proletariat, 136 

Diderot, Denis, 386, 388, 455 

Diesel engine, 298 

Diet of Worms, 124, 127 

Differential equations, 382 

Differential geometry, 383 

Digest, 503 

Diocletian, 107 

Diorama, 240 

Diphtheria, 227 

Dirac, P.A.M., 239 

Discourse on the Method for 
Properly Guiding the Reasons and 
Finding Truth (Descartes), 249 

Discourse on the Origin of 
Inequality (Rousseau), 386 

Discourses Upon the First Ten 
Books of Litus Livius 
(Machiavelli), 391 


Divine right of kings, 230 

Division of labor, 457 

Dole, France, 60 

Domesday Book, 344 

Donatists, 269 

Dorking, England, 397 

Double-acting steam engine, 112, 

Drake, Francis, 471 

Dryden, John, 387 

Dualism, 251 

Dutch, characterized, 284-85 

Dynamical astronomy, 14 

Eaglesfield, England, 173 

Earl of Oxford, 164 

Earth, 100, 102; roundness of, 50, 

Eastern Europe, Communist 
collapse in, 480-83, 485 

Eastern Roman Empire, 5, 109, 502 

East Germany, 480-82, 483, 485-86 

East India Company's College, 397 

Eckert, J. P., 513 

Economics, 85, 145; and 
overpopulation, 397; Malthus, 
395-98; Smith, 148-51 

Ecuador, 244, 245, 307 

Eddy, Mary Baker, 467, 509 

Edict of Milan, 108 

Edinburgh, Scotland, 122, 222 

Edinburgh, Treaty of, 470 

Edinburgh, University of, 82, 122, 

Edinburgh Royal Society, 122 

Edison, Thomas, 188-91, 188 

Edison effect, 190 

Education, 74, 316, 318, 386-87, 
388-89; in England, 219 

Edward I, 219 

Edward VI, 469 

Edward the Confessor, 342 

Efficiency, and steam engine, 112 

Ego, 350 

Egypt, 5, 75, 176, 180, 182, 264, 
435, 488-90 

“Eightfold Path”, 24 

Einstein, Albert, 52-59, 52, 59, 238, 
239, 293 

Eisenach, Germany, 359 

Eisleben, Germany, 123, 125 


E! Alamein, battle of, 207 

Elasticity, 382 

Elba, 185 

Elections, in East Germany, 483; in 
Soviet Union, 479 

Electricity, 517; advances in, 115-17; 
and Edison effect, 190; laws of, 
119-21; public distribution of, 189 

Electric motor, 116 

Electrochemistry, 117 

Electrode, 117 

Electrolysis, 117 

Electromagnetism, laws of, 119-21 

Electromagnetic induction, 117; and 
radio, 201 

Electron microscope, 238 

Elements, 103, 104, 171 

Elements (Euclid), 76-78 

Elements of Chemistry (Lavoisier), 

“Elettra’, 203 

El Greco, 522 

Elizabeth I, 159, 164, 165, 166 193, 
327, 444, 450, 451, 468-74, 468 

Embryology, 275-76 

Emile (Rousseau), 386 

Empire. See individual names and 

Empirical inquiry, 453 

Encyclopedie (Rousseau), 371, 455 

Enemy, 20-21 

Energy, in relativity, 54 

Engels, Friedrich, 133-34 

England, 82, 116, 152-69, 173, 202, 
228, 273, 294, 352, 397, 450, 524: 
Elizabethan, 469-72; historical 
records in, 159-60; vs. Napoleon, 
184, 185; and Nazi Germany, 
206-7; and Norman Conquest, 
341-47; and Parliamentary 
democracy, 217-21 

English Civil War, 217-21 

English language, 346 

ENIAC, 513 

Enlightenment, French, 221, 244, 
367, 369, 371, 386, 455 

Enovid, 404, 406 

Epicuras, 170 

Epistemology, 250-51 

Equality, and Code Napoleon, 183 

Erh Shih Huang Ti, 90 

Ericson, Leif, 49 

Essay Concerning Human 
Understanding, An (Locke), 229 
Essay on the Manners and Spirit of 
Nations (Voltaire), 371 

Essay on the Principle of Population 
as It Affects the Future 
Improvement of Society, An 
(Malthus), 83, 395, 397 

Essays (Bacon), 452 

Essex, Earl of, 451 

Estonia, 332, 441, 483 

Ether, 196-200, 200 

Ethics, 214, 215, 216 

Ethiopia, 483 

Ettinger, Robert C. W., 509 

Euclid, 19, 75-78, 75 

Eudoxia, 442-43 

Euler, Leonhard, 381-84, 381 

Euler-Fourier Formulas, 382 

Euler-Lagrange equation, 382 

Euler's Formula, 383 

Euripides, 500 

Europe, and Mongols, 145; and 
scientific progress, 76-77; and 
unity, 90-91. See also individual 
names, places and subjects 

Evil, 20, 409 

Evolution, theory of, 83 

Exodus, Book of, 79, 80 

Experimentation, importance of, 69 

Explorers, 428; Columbus, 47-51; 
Cortes, 309-14; da Gama, 424-3], 
English, 471; impact of, 152; 
Magellan, 520-21; Pizarro, 303-8; 
and space flight, 400 

Factory workers, 459, 450 

Falaise, France, 341 

False teeth, 146 

Faith vs. doubt, 251 

Family planning, 396 

Faraday, Michael, 115, 115-18, 118, 

Faraday’s law, 117 

Fear, compared to love, 392 

Federalist party, 317 

Ferdinand of Aragon, 322-23 

Ferme Générale, 105, 106 

Fermentation, 61 

Fermi, Enrico, 377-80, 377 

Fermions, 377 

Ferrara, University of, 99 

Ferromagnetism, 238 

Fertile Crescent 434, 438 

Feudalism, 88, 345 

Finland, 332, 441 

Fire, 465 

First Continental Congress, 130 

First Crusade, 259-60 

Fission, 379 

Five Books of Moses, 80 

Five-Year Plans, 330 

Flaxman, John, 501 

Fleming, Alexander, 225-27, 225, 

Florence, Italy, 254, 255, 390-91 

Florey, Howard Walter, 226, 227 

Fluids, 382 

Flyer I, II and III, 141-42 

Fly shuttle, 112 

Folkestone, England, 273 

Food supply, and population, 395-99 

Ford, Henry, 302, 456-60 

Ford Motor Company, 457-60 

Foreign policy, 89 

Fourcroi, 104 

Fourier, Jean Baptiste, 382 

Four Noble Truths, 23-24 

Four-stroke engine, 299-300 

Fox, George, 509 

Fracastoro, Girolamo, 61 

France, 60, 103, 133, 134, 142-43, 
164, 240, 248, 249, 259, 281, 282, 
341, 367-72, 495; and Napoleon, 
181-87; and Nazi Germany, 206, 

Frankish Kingdom, 491 

Franklin, Benjamin, 131, 317, 370, 
372, 500, 510, 516-18 

Franks, 5, 491, 493 

Frauenburg, Italy, 99 

Frederich the Great, 369, 383, 510 

Free market economy, 149-50 

Freiburg, 348 

French language, 340 

French Revolution, 105-6, 114, 183, 
186; and Locke’s philosophy, 231; 
and Napoleon, 182, 183, 184 

French Royal Academy of Sciences, 

Freud, Sigmund, 348-50, 348 

Friedan, Betty, 510 

Friedman, M. H., 405. 



Frobisher, Martin, 471 
Frost, Eben, 196 
Fust, Johann, 46 

Galapagos Islands, 83 

Galatia, 96 

Galen, 274, 510 

Galilei, Galileo, 11, 12, 13, 64-69, 
64, 77, 102, 160, 249, 375 

Gallic tribes, 337, 340 

Gamaliel, Rabbi, 31 

Gametes, 288 

Gamma rays, 121, 278 

Gandhi, Mohandas K., 508, 510, 

Gangrene, 227 

Garcia, Gelso-Ramon, 407 

Gases, laws of, 173; liquification of, 

Gathas (Zoroaster), 464 

Gaul, 96, 337, 340 

Gauss, Karl Friedrich, 510 

Gaza, 176 

Gears, and rotary motor, 112 

General Electric Company, 190 

Generals: Bolivar, 244-47; Cortes, 
309-14; Julius Caesur, 336-40; 
Napoleon, 181-87; Pizarro, 305-6; 
Su Wen Ti, 420-23 

General theory of relativity, 52, 55, 

Genes, 288 

Genesis, 80 

Genetics, 286-90; and evolution 
theory, 85 

Geneva, Switzerland, 282-84, 367, 

Geneva, University of, 283 

Genghis Khan, 144-47, 144, 185, 
306, 447, 496 

Genocide, 208 

Geocentric theory, 66 

Geology, 105 

Geometry, 382; and Euclidean, 

Geometry (Descartes), 250 

Germanic tribes, 503 

Germany, 58, 123, 126, 128, 134, 
137, 164, 232, 238, 284, 299, 355, 
359, 369, 373, 483, 494; and 
Nazism, 206-12 


Germ theory, 60-63 

Gerome, J. L., 183 

Ghirlandaio, 254 

Giroux, Alphonse, 243 

Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 294 

Glasnost, 483, 486-87 

Glasnost, 479 

Gliders, 139, 140 

Gonorrhea, 227 

Graeco-Persian Empire, 177-78 

Granada, 323 

Grand Armée, 184-85 

Grand Canal, 421 

Gravity, and acceleration, 65; and 
Einstein, 152; laws of, 13, 14 

Gray, Elisha, 222 

Gray’s Inn, 164 

Great Britain, 126, 134; vs. 
Napoleon, 182; and penicillin, 

— 226. See also England 

Great Depression, 206 

Greater Colombia, 246 

Great Leap Forward, 447-48 

Great Pyramid, 514-15 

Great Wall of China, 90 

Greece, 32, 174, 213-16; and WWI, 

Greek culture, spread of, 180 

Greek philosophers, 100, 170-71; and 
Aristotle, 70-74; and Plato, 213-16 

Greeks, 55; impact of, 77; self-image 
of, 177 , 

Greek writers, Homeric influence 
on, 500-501 

Greenwich, England, 468 

Gregory XIII, 470 

Grishin, Viktor, 478 

Goddard, Robert H., 400 

Godwin, Harold, 342-43 

Golden Age of England, 471 

Golden Horde, 146 

Golden Rule, 20, 28 

Good, and evil, 409 

Gorbachev, Mikhael, 475-87, 475, 
477, 480 

Gorbachev, Raisa Titorenko, 476, 

Gori, Georgia, 328 

Government, and civil service, 421, 
and corruption, 503; Locke on, 
228-31; and morality, 27, 28; and 
parliamentary democracy, 217-21; 


Plato on, 214; size of, 321; in 
Taoism, 364 
Government funding, 71 
Government regulation, and 
industrial expansion, 149-51 
Guardian class, 214-16 
Guayaquil, Ecuador, 245 
Gunpowder, 39 
Gutenberg, Johann, 37-40, 42-46, 42 
Gutenberg Bible, 45 
Gypsies, Nazi massacre of, 208 

Hackney, England, 166 

Hagia Sophia, 503 

Hahn, Otto, 379 

Half-life, 279 

Hamilton, Alexander, 317 

Hamlet (Shakespeare), 152 

Hammurabi, 510 

Han dynasty, 29, 37, 90, 420, 421 

Hardraade, Harold, 343 

Hargreaves, James, 112 

Harvard University, 407, 513 

Harvey, William, 12, 273-76, 273, 
275, 384, 454 

Hathaway, Anne, 157 

Havel, Jaclav, 482 

Haydn, Franz Joseph, 232, 361 

Heart, function of, 273-76 

Hebrews, 79-81 

Hegelian dialectic, 135 

Hegira, 4 

Heizendorf, Czechoslovakia, 286 

Heisenberg, Werner, 236-39, 236, 

Heliocentrism, 66, 68, 100-2, 373, 

Helium, 238 
Hellenistic culture, 180 
Henle, Friedrich, 61 
Henriade, 368 
Henry I (France), 342 
Henry IV (Castile), 356 
Henry VIII (France), 469, 510 
Henry the Navigator, 424, 431, 510 
Heraclitus, 86 
Herald Tribune, 142 
Herat, 180 
Heredity, 286-90 
Hero of Alexandria, 11-14 
Hertz, Heinrich, 120, 201 

Hieroglyphics, 489, 489 
Hillel, 20 

Hinduism, 20, 24, 25, 425, 426, 467, 

Hippo, town of, 269 
Hippocrates, 510 
Hiroshima, 54 
Hispaniola, 303, 309 
History of Florence (Machiavelli), 
Hitler, Adolf, 58, 127, 128, 137, 
146-47, 180, 186, 205-12, 205, 215, 
247, 293, 331-32, 394, 447 
H.M.S. Beagle, 82, 84, 86 
Hobbes, Thomas, 230, 387, 510 
Holland, 229, 249, 252 
Hollerith, Herman, 513 
Holocaust, 208 
Holy Land, and Crusades, 259 
Holy Roman Empire, 491, 495, 497 
Holzhausen, Germany, 299 
Homer, 154, 178, 498-501, 498 
Homosexuality, 168 
Honecker, Erich, 481, 486 
Horace, 97 
Hormizd [, 410 
House of Burgesses, 315, 316 
House of Commons, 451 
Hsien Yang, 89 
Hsi Hsia, 145 
Huguenots, 284 
Hungary, 145, 284, 480, 482, 483 
Huns, 492 
Huntingdon, England, 217, 218 
Hus, Jan, 125 
Husak, Gustav, 482 
Hutton, Thomas, 510 
Huxley, Thomas H., 84 
Huggens, Christian, 250 
Hydrogen, 103 

Iberian Peninsula, 184 

Id, 350 

Ides of March, 338 

Ignition system, 299-301 
[khnaton, 510 

Iliad, 498-501 

Immunology, 61-63, 225 

Inca Empire, 303-8 
Incandescent light bulb, 189, 190 
Index, of forbidden books, 252 



India, 8, 145, 176, 177, 180, 266-67, 
506, 508; sea route to, 424-31 

Indiana, 139, 14] 

Indians, American, 47 

Indicator, for steam engine, 112 

Indonesia, 8, 10, 430 

Inductive reasoning, 453-55 

Indulgences, sale of, 123-25 

Industrialization, of China, 446, 
447. of Soviet Union, 330-31 

Industrial Revolution, impact of, 
114; and steam engine 111-14 

Inertia, Law of, 65 

Infection, and surgery, 295 

Infinite series, 382 

Infrared rays, 121 

Ink, 43 

Innoculation, invention of, 61-63. 
See also Vaccination 

Inns of Court, 164 

Inquisition (Rome), 67. See also 
Spanish Inquisition 

Inquiry into the Causes and Effects 
of the Variolae Vaccinae, An 
(Jenner), 354 

Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes 
of the Wealth of Nations (Smith), 

Instauratio Magna (Bacon), 453 

Institute for Advanced Study, 58 

Institutes, 503 

Institutes of the Christian Religion 
(Calvin), 282 

Integral calculus, 13 

Interchangeable parts, 457, 458 

Internal combustion engine, 14], 

Interpretation of Dreams, The 
(Freud), 340 

Inventions: airplane, 140-43; 
assembly line, 456-60; 
automobile, 300-2; bifocals, 517; 
camera, 240-43; computer, 512-14; 
electrical power distribution, 188; 
electric motor, 116; fly shuttle, 
112; Franklin stove, 517; 
incandescent bulb, 189, 190; 
inevitability of, 40, 46; internal 
combustion engine, 297-301; 
lightning rod, 517; mimeograph 
machine, 189; modern printing, 
42; paper, 36-40; phonograph, 


188-89, 190; radio, 201; spinning 
jenny, 112; steam engine, 111-14; 
stock ticker system, 188; storage 
battery, 189; telephone, 222-224, 
vote recorder, 188 

Inventors: Babbage, 512-14; Bell, 
222-24; Daguerre, 240-43; 
Edison, 188-91; Faraday, 115-18, 
Ford, 456-60; Franklin, 516-18; 
Gutenberg, 42-46; Leeuwenhoek, 
192-94; Marconi, 201-4; Otto, 
297-301; Ts’ai Lun, 36-41; Watt, 
111-14; Wright brothers, 138, 

Ion, 117 

Tonia, 499 

Iran, 10, 176, 264, 404, 410, 411, 
432, 433, 435 

Iraq, 264, 489 

Ireland, 218, 219 

Irene (Voltaire), 370 

Iron law of wages, 397 

Isabella I, 48-49, 322-27, 322, 431 

Isaiah, 510 

Islam, 17, 25, 73, 79-80, 81, 411; and 
Muhammad, 3-10; spread of, 
261-65, 262-63; territory of, 

Israel, 212 

Isotopes, 17, 171 

Issus, 176 

Italy, 64, 67, 99-100, 182, 201, 203, 
244, 254, 255, 377, 378, 390, 392, 
495-96, 521 

Jackson, Charles T., 196, 198, 199 

Jacquard, Joseph Marie, 513 

Jainism, 413, 506-8 

James I (England), 166, 451 

James II (England), 220, 226 

James VI (England), 472 

Japan, 24, 30, 48; and scientific 
progress, 76-78 

Jefferson, Thomas, 131, 132, 216, 
230-31, 315-21, 315, 372 

Jen, 28 

Jena, University of, 133 

Jenner, Edward, 63, 351-54, 351, 

Jerusalem, 32, 264 

Jesus Christ, 8-9, 17-21, 17, 21, 24, 
26, 31-32, 35, 408 

Jews, 4, 19, 79-81, 108, 349, 407, 
434-35; in England, 219; and 
Inquisition, 324, 326; and Nazis, 
208, 212. See also Anti-Semitism; 

Joan of Arc, 510 

Joliot, Jean Frederic, 516 

Jonson, Ben, 159, 160, 162, 169 

Juana (Spain), 325 

Judaism, 73, 79-81, 180, 467 

Julian calendar, 441 

Julius Caesar, 92-93, 97, 130, 247, 
265, 336-40, 336 

Jung, Carl, 349 

Jupiter, 67 

Justin I, 502 

Justinian [, 502-5, 502, 503 

Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics, 

Kalinga, 267 

Kamenev, Lev, 329 

Kandahar, 180 

Kant, Immanuel, 510 

Kapilavastu, 22 

Karma, 507 

Kay, John, 112 

Kendal, England, 173 

Kennedy, John F., 399-402, 399 

Kepler, Johannes, 12, 77, 100, 102, 
373-76, 373, 454 

Keynes, John Maynard, 397, 510 

Kharate of the Crimea, 146 

Khorana, Har Gobind, 510 

Khuarezm Sha Muhammad, 145 

Kiel, Germany, 291 

Kiel University, 292 

Kill Devil Hill, 141 

Kinetic theory of gases, 121-22 

King, Martin Luther, Jr., 510 

King’s College, 295 

King Lear (Shakespeare), 152 

Kinsey, Alfred C., 510 

Kirchoff, Gustav, 510 

Kirkcaldy, Scotland, 148 

Kirov, Sergei, 329 

Kites, 139 

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, 139, 
141, 142 

Knowledge, 250, 453; Locke on, 229 

Knowlton, Dr. Charles, 396 

Koestler, Arthur, 487 

Komsomol, 476 

Koran, 9 

Korea, 24, 30, 43 

Korpernik, Mikolaj. See Copernicus, 

Krenz, Egon, 481, 483 

Kublai Khan, 145, 510 

Labor, 149 

Labor unions, 460 

La Fleche, College of, 248 

Lagrange, Joseph Lours, 106, 382; 
on Newton, 14 

La Haye, France, 248 

Lamarck, Jean, 84-85 

Land, 149 

Langen, Eugen, 300 

Langley, Samuel P., 139 

La Nouvelle Heloise (Rousseau), 386 

Lao Tzu, 363-66, 363 

Laplace, Pierre Simon, 105; on 
Newton, 14 

Lasers, 238 

Latin America, and Napoleon, 187 

Latvia, 332, 441, 483, 484 

“Laughing gas,” 196 

Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent, 103, 
103-6, 106 

Law, in China, 88; and Code 
Napoleon, 183-84; codification of, 
502; and Constantine, 109; and 
English Parliament, 219; and 
legalist school, 88 

Leaders-religious: Asoka, 266-67; 
Buddha, 22-26; Calvin, 281-85; 
Confucius, 27-30; impact of, 152, 
Jesus, 17-21; Mahavira, 506-7; 
Mani, 408-13; Muhammad, 3-10; 
St. Augustine, 268-72; St. Paul, 
31-35; ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, 261; 
Urban IH, 258-59; Zoroaster, 

Leaders-secular: Bolivar, 244-47; 
Charlemagne, 491-97; Cyrus, 
432-38; Elizabeth I, 468-74; 
Gandhi, 518-19; Kennedy, 
399-402; Isabella I, 322-27; 
Jefferson, 315-21, Julius Caesar 
338-39; Justinian, 502-5; Lenin, 
414-19: Lincoln, 519-20; Mao, 
445-49; Menes, 488-90; Stalin, 
328-35; Sui Wen Ti, 420-23; 


Washington, 129-132. See also 

Lee, Richard Henry, 319 

Leeuwenhoek, Antony Van, 192-94, 
194, 296 

Legalist school, 88, 90 

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von, 
510, 513; on Newton, 14 

Leipzig, battle of, 185 

Le Monde (Descartes), 249 

Lenin, 134, 135, 210, 329, 335, 
414-19, 414, 449, 487 

Lennep, Germany, 355 

Lenoir, Etienne, 297, 299, 302, 510 

Lens, 241 

Letter Concerning Toleration, A 
(Locke), 229 

Letters on the English (Voltaire), 
368-69, 371 

Levasseur, Therésé, 385 

Lever, 511-12 

Leverage, law of, 65 

Leviticus, 80 

Li, 28 

Licinius, 108 

Life expectancy, 63 

Light, and magnetism, 117; and 
Newton, 12; and photoelectric 
effect, 55, 57; wave theory of, 382 

Lilliental, Otto, 139 

Lima, Peru, 305 

Lincoln, Abraham, 510, 519-20 

Lisbon, Portugal, 425, 426 

Li Ssu, 91 

Lister, Joseph, 61, 199-200, 294-96, 

Liszt, Franz, 360 

Literature, influence of, 235 

Lithuania, 332, 483-84, 486 

Liu Pang, 510 

Livingston, Robert, 318 

Livy, 97 

Lochfield, Scotland, 225 

Locke, John, 221, 228-31, 228, 244, 
318, 320, 368, 371, 387 

Locomotive, 113-14 

“LOedipe”, 183 

Logarithms, 454 

Logic, founding of, 73; and 
geometry, 76 

Lombards, 492, 497 

London, England, 134, 450 

Long, Crawford W., 198, 199 


Lorenzo the Magnificent, 254, 390 

Louis XIV, 510 

Louisiana Purchase, 187, 317-18 

Louis-le-Grand College, 367 

Louis the Pious, 495 

Love, compared to fear, 392 

Lower Egypt, 488-89 

Lu, China, 27 

Lucretius, 170 

Luke, 19 

Luther, Martin, 35, 123-28, 123, 
125, 127, 272, 283-84, 285 

Luxembourg, 207 

Lyceum, 71 

Lydian Empire, 432, 433 

Lyly, John, 159 

Lysozyme, 226 

Macbeth (Shakespeare), 152 

Macedonia, 70, 71, 174 

Macedonians, 177-78 

McGill University, 278 

Mach, Ernst, 14 

Machiavelli, Niccolo, 390-94, 390, 
393, 463 

Madison, James, 131, 132 320, 372, 

Madrigal, 322 

Mahabharata, 20 

Mahavira, 413, 506-8, 506 

Mahayana Buddhism, 24 

Mahler, Gustav, 234 

Magellan, Ferdinand, 510 

Magic, 25] 

Magnetism, and electricity, 116-17; 
laws of, 119-21 

Magyars, 496 

Maine (France), 342 

Mainz, Germany, 44, 46 

Makepeace, A. W., 405 

Malaria, 219 

Malaya, 24 

Malindi, 425 

Malpighi, Marcello, 274 

Malthus, Thomas Robert, 83, 150, 
395-398, 395 

Manchester, England, 173 

Manchester University, 278 

Mandragola, La (Machiavelli), 391 

Mangu Khan, 146 

Mani, 269, 408-13, 408 

Manichaeism, 269, 408-13 

Manhattan Project, 54, 379 

Mao Zedong, 135, 136-37, 445-50, 
445, 448 

Maps: Alexander's Empire, 177; 
Charlemagne’s Empire, 494, 
explorers’ routes, 428-429; of 
Muhammad/Arab conquests, 6-7, 
262-63; Persian Empire, 436-37; 
of Roman Empire, 94-95 

Marconi, Guglielmo, 120, 191, 
201-4, 201, 202, 203 

“Marconigrams’, 202 

Marco Polo, 39, 51, 41] 

Marcus, Siegfried, 297 

Mark [, 513 

Marriage, 452 

Marston Moor, battle of, 218 

Martel, Charles, 491 

Marx, Karl, 133-37, 133, 150, 210, 

215, 397, 398, 416 

Mary (Scotland), 470 

Mary, Virgin, 510 

Mary I, 469 

Mass, atomic, 71]; in relativity, 54 

Massachusetts, 196, 197, 222, 399 

Massachusetts General Hospital, 197 

Massagetae, 434 

Mass production, and automobile, 

456-60; and printing, 43-44 

Material objects, and dualism, 251 

Mathematical Discourses and 

Demonstrations, 65 

Mathematical formula, impact of, 65 

Mathematical Principles of Natural 
Philosophy, 14 

Mathematics, 512; and analytic 
geometry, 250, 253; and 
electromagnetism, 119-22; and 
Euclid, 76-78; Euler's 
contributions to, 381-84; and 
heliocentrism, 100, 102; and 
integral calculus, 13; and 
mechanics, 381-82; and Newton, 
14; notation in, 383; Plato on, 214; 
and relativity, 52-59 

Matthew, 19 

Mauchly, John, 513 

Mauryan dynasty, 266 

Maxwell, James Clark, 116, 117, 119, 
119-22, 204 

Maxwell distribution, 122 

Mecca, 3 

Mechanics, defined, 13; and gravity, 
64-65, 68: mathematical 
applications in, 381-82; 
Newtonian, 13-14, 237; quantum, 
236-39. See also Heisenberg, 
Werner; Planck, Max; Quantum 

Medellin, Spain, 309 

Medes, 432, 433 

Medicine, 228; and antiseptic 
surgery, 294-96; and blood 
circulation, 273-75; and 

embriology, 275; and germ theory, 

60-63; and penicillin, 226-27; and 
smallpox vaccine, 351-54 

Medici Chapel, 257 

Medici family, 254, 390, 391 

Medina, 4 

Meditations (Descartes), 252 

Meijo Tenno, 510 

Meitner, Lise, 379 

Memphis, 489 

Mencius, 365, 461-63, 46] 

Mendel, Gregor, 85, 286-90, 286, 

Mendeleev, Dmitri, 510 

Mendel’s Law, 287-90 

Menes, 488-90 

Meningitis, 227 

Menlo Park, N.J., 189 

Mental illness, 349-50 

Merovingian dynasty, 491 

Mesopotamia, 5, 409, 410, 435 

Mestranol, 406 

Metallurgy, 378 

Metaphysics, 214, 216, 250 

Meteorology, 173; and Descartes on, 

Mexico, 308, 309-14 

Mexico City, 31l 

Miasmas, 294 

Michelangelo, 160, 254-57, 254, 255, 
256, 456, 522 

Microbes, 226; discovery of, 192, 
193-94; and infection, 295 

Microorganisms, 61-63 

Microscope, development of, 192-93, 

Microwaves, 204 

Milan, Italy, 269 

Milky Way, 66 


Millville, Indiana, 139, 141 

Milvian Ridge, battle of, 108 

Mimeograph machine, 189 

Mind, and dualism, 251 

“Miracle drugs”, 227 

Miracles, 80 

Miranda, Francisco, 245 

Mirror-image isomers, 61 

Model T Ford, 457, 459 

Moderator, neutron, 378 

Mogul dynasty, 146 

Mold, and penicillin, 226 

Moldavia, 483 

Molecules, 171 

Momentum, conservation of, 16 

“Mona Lisa’, 522 

Mongolia, 144-47, 147, 411, 483 

Monopoly, 150 

Monotheism, 81 

Montagu, Mary Wortley, 352 

Montaigu, Collége de, 281 

Montesquieu, Charles Louis, 244, 
371, 510 

Montezuma II, 310, 313 

Monticello, 319 

Moon, 66, 100; landing on, 

132, 399-402 

Moors, 325 

Morality, and Confucionism, 27, 28 

More, Thomas, 453 

Mormons, 461 

Morse, Samuel, 510 

Morse code, 202 

Morton, William T. G., 195-201, 
195, 198 

Moscow, 184-85, 439 

Moscow State University, 476 

Moses, 79-81, 80, 81 - 

Moslems, 3-10, 229, 259, 323, 
324-25, 326, 466-67, 491, 496 

Mo Ti, 364-65 

Motion, laws of, 14 

Mount Vernon, 130 

Movable type, 42-46 

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 232, 
360, 361, 510 

Muawiya I, 510 

Muhammad, 3-10, 1], 24, 19-20, 79, 
261, 265 

Munda, Spain, 338 

Munich, Germany, 206 

Munich, University of, 238, 291-92 


Munich Beer Hall Putsch, 206 

Munich Pact, 207 

Muses galantes, Les, 386 

Music, 232-35, 359-62; influence of, 
935; Plato on, 214 

Musicians. See Composers; Music 

Mussolini, Benito, 215, 378, 394 

Mysterious William Shakespeare, 
The (Ogburn), 162-63 

Nagasaki, 54 

Nageli, Karl, 287 

Naissus, 107 

Napier, John, 454 

Napoleon, Bonaparte, 132, 137, 
146-47, 180, 181-87, 181, 183, 187, 
244, 247, 394 

Narva, battle of, 441 

Naseby, battle of, 218 

Nationalism, 387 

Natural selection, 83-85 

Nazi Germany, and Stalin, 331-32 

Nazi Party, 206-12 

Nazis, 349 

Nehavend, battle of, 5, 264 

Nelson, Horatio, 182 

Neoplatonism, 269, 272 

Nero, 97 208 

Netherlands, 192, 193, 284, 470 

Neutrino, 378 

Neutrons, absorption of, 378 

Neutron stars, 78 

Neva River, 441 

New Atlantic, The (Bacon), 453, 455 

Newcomer, Thomas, Ill 

Newington, England, 116 

New Jersey, 58, 189, 190 

New Spain, 311 

New System of Chemical Philosophy, 
A (Dalton), 173 

New Testament, 18, 19 

Newton, Isaac, 11-16, 11, 32, 57, 69, 
77, 159-60, 171, 228, 368, 375, 376 

New Zealand, 277 

Nicene Creed, 109 

Nicomedia, 107 

Niepce, Joseph Nicéphore, 240-41, 

“Night watchman theory of 
government,” 230 | 

Nika riots, 504 

Nina, 50 

Ninety-five theses, 124, 125 

Nirvana, 23-24 

Nitrogen, 103, 104 

Nitrous oxide, 196, 198 

Nobel Prize, 58; for Einstein, 55; for 
Fermi, 378; for Fleming, 227; for 
Heisenberg, 236; for Juliet- 
Curies, 516; for Marconi, 202; for 
Planck, 293; for Rontgen, 358; for 
Rutherford and Soddy, 279 

“Noble savage, 387 

Non-alignment pact, Stalin-Hitler, 

Norethynodrel, 406 

Norman Conquest, 341-47 

North Africa, 207 

North Carolina, 139, 141, 142 

Norway, 207, 343 

Notes on the State of Virginia 
(Jefferson), 316 

Novellae, 503 

Novum organum (Bacon), 453, 455 

Noyon, France, 281 

Nuclear physics, 277-80 

Nuclear reactor, 378-79, 380 

Nuclear weapons, 478 

Number theory, 76 

Numbers, 80 

Oberth, Hermann, 400 
Obligation, in Confucionism, 30 
Octavius, Gaius, 92-98 
Odyssey, 498, 499-501 
Oedipus complex, 350 
Oedipes (Voltaire), 368 
Oersted, Hans Christian, 116 
Ogadai, 145 

Ogburn, Charlton, 162-63 
Ohio, 139 

Oil embargo, 10, 113 

Old Testament, 19, 80-81 
O’Neill, Gerard K., 510 

_On the Generation of Animals 

(Harvey), 275-76 

On the Nature of Things, 170 

On the Origin of Species by Means 
of Natural Selection, or the 
Preservation of Favored Races in 
the Struggle for Life (Darwin), 811 

On the Revolution of the Celestial 
Sphere (Copernicus), 100 

Optics, 249-50; laws of, 120 

Optics (Descartes), 250 

Orchestra, 234 

Original sin, 270 

Origin of Species, The (Darwin), 841 
Orléans, University of, 281 

Othello (Shakespeare), 152, 165 
Othman, 264 

Otto, Nikolaus August, 297-301, 297 
Ottoman Empire, 109 

Ottoman Turks, 427 

Ovid, 97 

Oxford University, 148, 164, 228 
Oxygen, 103 

Pacifism, 25-26, 59 

Padua, University of, 99, 276 

Paganism, 492 

Pain, and anesthesia, 195-200 

Painters, influence of, 235. See also 
individual names; Arts 

Pakistan, 8 

Palestine, 5, 264, 434 

Pandects, 503 

Paper, 36-40 - 

Papyrus, 37-39 

Paracelsus, 196 

Paranoia, 386 

Parchment, 37 

Paris, France, 103, 133, 249, 367 

Parliament (English), 218-21, 469, 472 

Parliamentary democracy, 217-21 

Parthian Empire, 43 

Parthians, 438 

Parsvanatha, 506 

Partial pressures, law of, 173 

Pasargadae, 434 

Pascal, Blaise, 510, 513 

Pasteur, Louis, 60-63, 194, 295, 296 

Pasteurization, 61 

Patent, for carburetor, 299; and 
daguerrotype, 241; and ether, 197; 
for internal combustion engines, 
300; for radio, 202 

Paulicians, 411 

Pax Romana, 97 

Pavlov, Ivan, 510 

Peasants and Mao, 447 

Pelagius, 269-70 

Pella, Macedonia, 174 

Penicillin, 226-27 

People’s Republic of China, 134, 
445-49. See also China 

Index 549 

Pepin the Short, 491 

Perestroika, 479 

Permenio, 176 

Persepolis, 176 

Persian Empire, 145, 146, 264, 
409-10, 432-38, 465; and 
Alexander, 175-78 

Persians, 5, 40; in Alexander's plans, 

Peru, 244, 245, 303-8 

Peter the Great, 193, 419, 439-44, 
439, 474 

Pharoahs, 489-90 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 223 

Philip I (Spain), 325 

Philip II (Macedon), 174, 418 

Philip II (Spain), 325 

Philosophers: Aquinas, 511; 
Aristotle, 70-74; Bacon, 450-55; 
Confucius, 27-29; Descartes, 
248-53; judging impact of, 135; 
Lao Tzu, 363-66; Locke, 228-31; 
Machiavelli, 390; Mencius, 
461-63; Plato, 213-16; Rousseau, 
385-89; Voltaire, 367-72. See also 

Philosophy, 71, 152; Communist, 
133; and Confucionism, 28-30; and 
inductive reasoning, 453; and 
political democracy, 228-31; Taoism, 
363-66. See also Philosophers 

Phipps, James, 353 

Phlogiston, 103-4 

Phonograph, 190 

Photoelectric effect, 55, 57 

Photography, 240-43 

Photons, 55, 57 

Physical training, 214 

Physicians: Freud, 348-50, Harvey, 
273-76; Jenner, 351-54; Lister, 
294-96; Morton (Dentist), 195-200. 
See also Biology; Medicine; 

Physicians, College of, 276 

Physics, and electromagnetism, 
119-21; and inertia, 65: and 
mechanics, 381-82; nuclear, 
277-80, 378-79, 380; and quantum 
mechanics, 236-39, 291-93; and 
relativity, 52-59; and x-ray, 
355-58. See also Scientists 

Physiology, 251; and circulation, 
273-76; and respiration, 105 

500 Index 

Pi, in mathematics, 383 

Piano, influence of, 234 

Picasso, Pablo, 522 

Pieta, 255, 256 

Pincus, Gregory, 403-7, 403 

Pinta, 50 

Pisa, Italy, 64 

Pisa, University of, 64, 377 

Pi Sheng, 43 ; 

Pizarro, Francisco, 303-8, 303, 306, 

Pirates, in Shakespeare, 164-65 

Place, Francis, 396 

Planck, Max, 239, 291-93, 29] 

Planck's constant, 292-93 

Plane geometry, 76 

Planets, 66-67; orbits of 374 

Plato, 213-16, 213, 398 

Plays, 152-69 

Playwright, impact of, 153 

Plotinus, 269 

Plutonium, 380 

Pneumonia, 227 

Poetry, 152, 157, 166, 167, 257. See 
also Poets 

Poets, 161-62; Homer, 498-501; 
impact of, 153; in Shakespeare's 
time, 159 

Poitiers, University of, 248 

Poland, 99, 284, 331-32, 480, 482, 
516; and World War II, 207 

Poliomyelitis, 62 

Politburo, 476 

Political science, 85; and Marx, 

Politics, and Jesus, 19 

Pol Pot, 419 

Poltava, battle of, 441 

Poor Richard's Almanac, 517 

Popes, 272; Alexander, 11; and 
Charlemagne, 493; Innocent III, 
4ll; Leo IIL, 493; Pius V, 470; and 
Reformation, 124; Urban II, 258, 
259-60; Urban VIII, 67 

Population, and food supply, 395-98; 
and oral contraceptive, 403-7 

Portugal, 424-31, 520-21 

Portuguese, 49 

Posthumous Leonatus, 164 

Poverty, 74; and overpopulation, 396 

Poverty of Philosophy, The (Marx), 

Praetorian Guard, 96 

Prague, Czechoslovakia, 482 

Predestination, 270, 283 

Prelude and Fugue in B-Minor 
(Bach), 362 

Presbyterians, 284 

Press, freedom of, 370, 486 

Pressure gauge, 112 

Priestly, Joseph, 103 

Princeton, New Jersey, 58 

Prince, The (Machiavelli), 391 

Principia (Newton), 14, 77 

Principles of Philosophy (Descartes), 

Principles of Political Economy 
(Malthus), 397 

Printing, 42-46 

Printing press, 37, 38, 42-46 

Private property, 389 

Privolnoe, Russia, 476 

Progesterone, 405-7 

Promises, and rulers, 392 

Property, 230, 231 

Protestant Reformation, and Calvin, 
281-85; Luther, 123-28 

Protestants, 369-70, 469, 472; and 
English Civil War, 219, number 
of, 126. See also Protestant 

Protozoa, 194 

Proust, Joseph Louis, 172 

Prussia, 185 

Prussian Academy of Science, 58 

Psychoanalysis, 349-50 

Ptolemy, 510 

Purgatory, 125 

Purges. See Stalin, Joseph 

Puritans, 218, 284, 469 

Pythagoras, 510 

Qadisiya, battle of, 264 

Quetzalcoatl, 311 

Quantum theory, 57; creation of, 
236-39: and Planck’s constant, 

Quantum statistics, 377 

Radio, 120, 223-24: invention of, 
Radioactive dating, 279 

Radioactivity, 277-80, 516 

Radium, 516 

Rajachandra, Shrimad, 508 

Raleigh, Walter, 471 

Ramses II, 79 

Raphael, 72 

Rationalism, 19, 388 

Reagan, Ronald, 486, 487, 510 

Red blood corpuscles, 193 

Reflecting telescope, 12-13 

Reflection, 12 

Reformation. See Protestant 

Refraction of light, law of, 12, 250 

Reincarnation, 507 

Relativity, and quantum theory, 238. 

See also Einstein, Albert 

Religion, and Crusades, 259-60; in 
England, 469-70, 472; and 
evolution theory, 85-86; and 
Islam’s spread, 261; prospects for, 
128; and Protestant Reformation, 
23-28; spreading of, 24, 25, 31-35. 
See also individual names, 
religions and subject; 

Religious freedom, and Jefferson, 
316, 320; and Locke, 229-30; and 
Voltaire, 369-70 

Rembrandt, 510, 522 

Renaissance, 260 

Repression, 349 

Republic, The (Plato), 214-16 

Research, and government funding, 

Research laboratory, development 
of, 189 

Respiration, 105 

Revolutions: American, 114, 130-32, 
314; French, 72, 221, 370, 371, 
386, 387-88: and Locke's 
philosophy, 231; right of, 230-31, 
462; Russian, 415; South 
American, 245. See also French 

Rheinische Zeitung, 133 

Rhineland, 208 

Ricardo, David, 150, 397 

Rice-Wray, Edris, 406, 407 

Rights, and obligation, 30 

Rock, John, 405, 407 

Rohan, Chevalier de, 368 


Roman Catholic Church, 271-72, 
283; and Crusades, 259-60; and 
medieval position of, 216; and 
Protestant Reformation, 123-28: in 
Spain, 325 

Roman Catholics, in England, 219, 
469-70, 472; Locke on, 229 

Roman Empire, 91-98, 132, 340, 
495, 496; decline of, 270-71 

Romania, 332, 480, 483 

Roman Republic, 92, 93, 336-37, 

Romanticism, 388; in music, 234 

Rome, 92-97, 107-10, 178, 203, 244, 
255, 336-40, 377, 502-5 

Rome, University of, 377 

Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare), 
154, 165 

Rontgen, Wilhelm Conrad, 355-58, 
355, 384 

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 54, 510 

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 244, 253, 
285, 371, 385-87, 385 

Rowe, William, 169 

Royal Arsenal, 106 

Royal Institution, 18 

Royal navy, 471, 473 

Royal Society of England, 193, 295 

Royal Society of London, 455 

Rudolph II, 374 

Rules of the Direction of the Mind 
(Descartes), 249 

Rump, 219 

Russell, Bertrand, 77 

Russia, 145, 146, 383, 384, 414-15, 
439-44, 476; backwardness of, 
439-40; vs. Napoleon, 184-85; 
Westernization of, 440-44. See 
also Soviet Union 

Russian Orthodox Church, 441 

Russians, Nazi massacre of, 208 

Russian SSR, 484 

Rutherford, Ernest, 277-80, 277 

St. Ambrose, 269 

St. Andrew's University, 352 

St. Anselm, 252 

St. Augustine, 251, 252, 268-72, 
268, 271, 410 

St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, 276 

St. Helena, 185 


St. Mary’ Hospital, 225 

St. Michael's School, 360 

St. Paul, 9, 17, 31-35, 31, 124, 463 

St. Petersburg, 441-42 

St. Peter's Cathedral, Rome, 257 

St. Thomas's Church, 360 

Sakharov, Andrei, 487 

Salamanca, University of, 309 

Samarkand, 37 

Sanger, Margaret, 405, 407 

Sankara, 510 

San Martin, José de, 245 

Santa Maria, 50 

San Vitale, 504 

Sargon of Akkad, 80 

Sassanid Empire, 5, 264, 410, 438, 

Saul. See St. Paul 

Savery, Thomas, lll 

Saxony, 441, 492, 496, 497 

Scandinavians, 496 

Scarlet fever, 227 

“School of Athens, The,” 72 

Schrodinger, Erwin, 239 

Schubert, Franz Peter, 234 

Science, and Aristotle, 72-73; and 
church, 18, 249; Elements role in, 
76-77; and Greek rationalism, 
18-19; impact of, 16; and inductive 
reasoning, 453-55, and mid-17th 
century, 11-12; and quantitative 
measurement, 64, 69. See also 
Scientific breakthroughs and 
milestones; Scientists 

Scientific breakthroughs and 
milestones, in astronomy, 66-67, 
99, 373-76; in biology, 82, 192-94, 
286-90, 403-7; in chemistry, 103-6, 
170; impact of, 152; in mechanics, 
13-15, 64-65; in medicine, 60-63, 
195-200, 225-27, 351-54; in 
physics, 12, 115-18, 119-22, 172-73, 
236-39, 277-80, 291-93, 355-58, 
377-80; in physiology, 105; in 
printing, 42-46; in psychology, 
348-50; and relativity, 52-59. See 
also individual names and 
subjects; Inventions; Science; 

Scientific method, and Galileo, 64, 

Scientific socialism, 133 

Scientists: Archimedes, 511-12; 
Copernicus, 99-102; Dalton, 
170-73; Darwin, 82-86; Descartes, 
248-53: Einstein, 52-59; Euler, 
381-84; Faraday, U5-19; Fermi, 
377-80; Galileo, 64-69, 
Heisenberg, 236-39; Kepler, 
373-76; Leeuwenhoek, 192-94; 
Maxwell, 119-22: Mendel, 286-90; 
Newton, LI-16; Pasteur, 60-63, 
Pincus, 403-7; Planck, 291-93, 
Rontgen, 355-58; Rutherford, 
277-80. See also Inventors; 

Scotland, 122, 148, 218, 219, 222, 
925, 470, 472, 524 

Sculptors, influence of, 235 

Sculpture, 254, 255 

Scurvy, 425 

Second Continental Congress, 130, 
316, 319-20 

Second law of motion, 13 

Seleucid Empire, 435 

Seleucus I Nicator, 435 

Semiter, 435, 438 

Semmelweis, Ignaz, 296 

Separation of powers, 89, 231 

Senate (Rome), 96 

Serfdom, 109, 439 

Servetus, Michael, 283 

Seventeenth Century, Scientific 
ferment in, 11-12 

Sexual feelings, and mental illness, 350 

Sexual revolution, 403-4 

Shodwell, Virginia, 315 

Shaftesbury, Earl of, 229 

Shakespeare, Susanna, 157 

Shakespeare, William, 152-69, 153, 
368, 471, 500; identity of, 156-69; 
impact of, 154-56 

Shaoshan, China, 445 

Shapur I, 410 

Shih Huang Ti, 28-29, 87-91, 420, 
448-49, 496 

Shockley, William B., 510 

Short wave, 204 

Shrewsbury, England, 82 

Shrodinger, Erwin, 280, 510 

Shulze, Johann, 241 

Siberia, 415 

Siddhartha, 22-26. See also Buddha; 

Silkworms, 63 

Silver bromide, 242 

Silver iodide, 242 

Simbirsk, Russia, 414 

Sines, Portugal, 424 

Single life, 452 

Sistine Chapel, 255 

Slavery, 247, 316 

Smallpox, 63, 351-54 

Smith, Adam, 148-51, 148, 15] - 

Smith, Joseph, 467, 510 

Smoking, 440 

Snell, Willebrord, 250 

Social contract, 230-31, 387 

Social Contract, The (Rousseau), 
386, 389 

Socialism, 133-37 

Society, 387 

Sociology, 85 

Socrates, 213, 510 

Soddy, Frederick, 278 

Solzhenitzen, Alexander, 487 

Solar system, 100 

Solid geometry, 76 

Sonnets, 152, 157 

Sophia, regent, 439 

Sophocles, 500 

South America, 303-8 

Soviet Union, 133-35, 449; 
disintegration of, 417, 475-87; 
formulation of, 414-16; and Nazis, 
207, 212: and Stalin, 328-35 

Space exploration, 399-402 

Spain, 5, 96, 303, 309, ‘322-27, 338, 
470-71, 474, 492-93: and Latin 
Ameria, 187, 244-47 

Spanish Armada, 471, 473 

Spanish Inquisition, 323-27 

Spanish March, 493 

Special theory of relativity, 52-55 

Specific gravity, 511-12 

Spectroscopy, 238 

Speech, Freedom of, 370, 486 

Spencer, Edmund, 159 

Spermatozoa, 193 

Spinning jenny, 112 

Spinoza, Baruch, 77 

Spirit of the Laws, The 
(Montesquieu), 371 

Spontaneous generation, 63, 193 

S.S. Republic, 202 

Stagira, Macedonia, 70 


Stalin, Jacob, 333 

Stalin, Joseph, 135, 207, 210, 328-35, 
328, 394, 417-19, 447, 476, 487 

Stalin, Svetlana, 333 

Stalingrad, battle of, 207 

Staphylococcus, 226 

Stars, 238 

Statistical predictions, and quantum 
mechanics, 237-38 

Statute of Virginia for Religious 
Freedom, 316 

Steamboat, 113 

Steam engine, 111-14 

Stinger missiles, 478 

Stockholm, Sweden, 252 

Stocks, 223 

Stock ticker system, 188 

Storage battery, 189 

Strassmann, Fritz, 379 

Stratford, England, 166 

Strateford Grammar School, 157, 159 

Stratford-on-Avon, 156, 157, 160, 166 

Strauss, Richard, 234 

Studies in Hysteria (Freud), 349 

Sublimation, 349 

Subsistence level, 150 

Sudetenland, 207 

Suicide, 93 

Sui Wen Ti, 420-23, 420, 496 

Sumeria, 489 

Summary View of the Rights of 
British America, A (Jefferson), 316 

Summa Theologica (Aquinas), 73, 

Summit meetings, Gorbachev- 
Reagan, 478 

Sun, 67, 100, 280 

Sunday, as Sabbath, 108 

Sunspots, 67 

Sun Yat-Sen, 510 

Superego, 350 

Superstition, 251 

Supreme Court, 321 

Surgery, and anesthesia, 195-200; 
and antisepsic method, 199-200, 

Surplus value, theory of, 135, 397 

Susa, 176 

Sweden, 252, 441 

Switzerland, 58, 96, 282-84, 369, 
383, 385 

Symphony, popularization of, 234 


Syphilis, 227 
Syria, 5, 32, 96, 176, 180, 264, 434 
Syriac, 410 

Tagaste, 268 

Talbot, William Henry Fox 242, 510 

Tamerlane, 146, 185, 510 

Tang Dynasty, 422 

Taoism, 363-66 

Tao Te Ching (Lao), 363, 366 

Tariffs, 150 

Tarsus, 31 

Tauresium, 502 

Taxes, 364, 442, 462, 463, 503 

Taylor, Frederick Winslow, 458 

Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilich, 234 

Tchermak, Erich von, 287 

Technology, bias toward, 387; and 
food supply, 396 

Temujin. See Genghis Khan 

Telescope, 66; Galileo's, 66; impact 
of, 11-12 

Telephone, 204; invention of, 222-24 

Television, 120, 204 

Teller, Edward, 510 

Ten Commandments, 80-81 

Textbooks, and Elements, 76 

Theodora, 504-5 

Theologians. See Leaders-religious 

Theology, 214; Descartes on, 251 

Theory of Moral Sentiments (Smith), 

Therava da Buddhism, 24 

Thermodynamics, 16, 121 

Thinis, Egypt, 489 

Third law of motion, 13 

Thirty Years’ War, 126, 376 

Thoreau, Henry David, 510 

Throttle valve, 112 

Tiananmen Square, 447 

Tiberius, 97 

Tibet, 24 

Time, in relativity, 53 

Timisoara, Romania, 483 

Tlaxcalans, 310 

Toghril, 145 

Tolstoy, Leo, 501 

Tooth extraction, 196 

Torah, 80-81 

Torquemada, Tomas de, 324 

Torun, Poland, 99 

Toulon, France, 182 

Tower of London, 165, 45], 469 

Townes Charles H., 510 

Trade routes, to India, 424-31 

Trafalgar, battle of, 184 

Transactions, 287 

Transistors, 238 

Transmigration of souls, 507 

Treaty of Tilsit, 184 

Treaty of Versailles, 206 

Trevithick, Richard, 113-14 

Tribonian, 503 

Trier, Germany, 133-37 

Trigonometry, 383 

Trinity College, 450 

Trotsky, Leon, 329 

Trujillo, Spain, 303 

Truman, Harry, 487, 510 

Truth, 23, 249, 250; and relativity, 

Tsai Lun, 36-40, 36 

Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin, 400 

Tsou, China, 461 

Tsung, 366 

Tubingen, University of, 373 

Turkestan, 410 

Turkey, 443-44; vs. Russia, 441 

Two-stroke engine, 299-300 

Two Treatises of Government 
(Locke), 230 

Typhus, 62 

Tyranny, 28, 59 

Tyre, 176 

Uighars, 411 

Ulm, Germany, 58 

Ultraviolet rays, 121, 358 

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, 5, 261-65 

Uncertainty principle, 237 

Unconscious mind, 349 

Unemployment, 201 

United States of America, 130-32, 
315-21, 448, 519-20; and English 
democracy, 221; founding of, 
129-32, 315-21; government of, 
216; and Nazi Germany, 207; and 
Napoleon, 187; and penicillin, 226 

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. 

See Soviet Union 

Upper Persia, 245 

Upton, England, 294 
Uranium, 278 

Urban II, Pope, 258, 259-60 
Utopia (More), 453 

Vaccination, 61-63; for smallpox, 

Vacuum tube, 190 

Vandals, 272 

Vanderlyn, John, 51 

Van Gogh, Vincent, 522 

Vardhamana. See Mahavira 

Vegetarianism, 507 

Vellum, 37 

Venezuela, 244, 245, 246 

Venus, 67 

Verdun, Treaty of, 495 

Victoria, Queen, 295 

Vienna, Austria, 232, 348 

Vienna, University of, 286, 348 

Vienna General Hospital, 296 

Vikings, 496 

Violence, 389, 416, 507, 508 

Virgil, 97, 154, 501 

Virginia, 130, 315, 316 

Virginia, University of, 318 

Vishtaspa, King, 464 

Visigoths, 5, 270 ~ 

Vistula River, 99 

Voice, and radio, 202 

Volth, Alessandro, 116, 510 

Voltaire, 216, 231, 244, 253, 285, 
320, 321, 367-72, 367, 386 

von Braun, Wernher, 400 

Vote recorder, electric, 188 

Vultures, and Zoroastrianism, 465 

Wages, 150, 459-60 
Wagner, Richard, 234 
Waldo, Peter, 125 
Wakefield, Virginia, 130 
Waksman, Selman A., 510 
Wallace, Alfred Russel, 84 
Wang, defined, 89 

War: Alexander vs. Persia, 175-78; 

Caesar vs. Senate, 337-38; and 
Charlemagne, 492-93, 497; and 
Chinese, 420, 446; and 



Constantine, 108; and Crusades, 
259-60; of Cyrus, 433; England- 
France, 346; England-Spain, 
470-71, 474: English Civil, 218-21: 
and Jesus, 18; Isabella vs. 
Moslems, 323; for Islam, 4-9, 
261-65; and India, 266-67; 
Napoleonic, 184-88; Octavian vs. 
Antony, 93; and Peter’s Russia, 
44]-42; Phillip II vs. Greece, 174; 
and Protestant Reformation, 126; 
Thirty Years, 376; World War II, 
207-8, 209. See also specific 
names and subjects; Revolution 

Warren, John C., 197 

Washington, George, 98, 129-32, 
129, 247, 321 

Washington, Martha Dandridge 
Custis, 130-32 

Water, 103, 104 

Waterloo, 185, 187 

Watson, James D., 510 

Watson-Witt, Robert A., 510 

Watt, James, IJ, 111-14, 14 

Weights and measures, 89 

Weil der Stadt, Germany, 373 

Weinstein, G. L., 405 

Well-Tempered Clavier, 361 

Wells, Horace, 196, 198 

Western Civilization, advances in, 
46; and writing material, 38-39 

Western Europe, 260; intellectual 
progress in, 126-27 

Western Roman Empire, 493, 503 

Western thought, start of, 213 

Western Union Telegraph Company, 

West Orange, N.J., 190 

Whitehead, Alfred North, 77 

William and Mary College, 315 

William the Conqueror, 341-47, 341], 

Wing design, 140 

Winters Tale, The (Shakespeare), 165 

Witan, 342 

Witchcraft, 283 

Wittenberg, Germany, 124 

Wittenberg, University of, 123 

Wollstonecraft, Mary, 510 

Women, 28, 389, 422, 515-16; 
Aristotle on, 74; and Christian 

506 Index 

doctrine, 34; Plato on, 214: status Yagoda, Genrikh, 320 
of, 504-5 Yang Chien. See Sui Wen Ti 
Worcester Foundation for Yarmich, battle of, 264 
Experimental Biology, 405, 407 Yeltsin, Boris, 485, 510 
Workers, and wages, 459-60 Yezhov, Nicolai, 330 
Work ethic, 284 Youth, 74, 452 
World War I, 206-8, 415 Yugoslavia, 107, 207, 332 

World War II, 209; causes of, 206-7, 
209; and Soviet Union, 331-32 

Wright, Frank Lloyd, 510 Zamorin, the, 425, 426 

Wright, Orville, 138-43, 138, 142 Zen Buddhism, 366 

Wright, Wilbur, 138-43, 138, 142 Zhivkov, Todor, 481 

Wrington, England, 228 Zinoviev, Grigori, 329 

Writers, compact of, 152 Zionism, 59 

Wurzberg, University of, 355 Zoroaster, 408, 413, 464-67 
Wycliffe, John, 125 Zoroastrianism, 408, 409, 464-67 

Zurich, University of, 58, 355 
Zworykin, Vladimir, 510 
X-rays, 121